Even if one agrees with all of Moore’s arguments, the film reduces decades of American foreign-policy failures to a black-and-white cartoon that lays the blame on one family. He ignores facts like the policy to arm and support Afghan rebels that began in the Carter administration. For that matter, the Clinton team never mounted a serious effort to go after al-Qaida even after the 1998 embassy bombings in East Africa.
The Iraq violence is more gruesome than what normally appears on American TV. One particular sequence follows an American patrol on Christmas Eve, but Moore never identifies who shot the footage. Because Moore is very good at jumping in front of a camera when he is around, one can only assume he shot none of the Iraq footage. But his editing is designed to emphasize Iraqi suffering and U.S. military personnel indifference or even hostility.
The movie contains only one episode of Moore’s patented “ambushes” of the famous. He collars congressmen leaving Capitol Hill and tries to persuade them to enlist their children to fight in Iraq. Not surprisingly, he has no takers.
When the movie devolves into problems of veteran benefits, harassment of peace groups or the grief of one family over a killed son, Moore simply loses his focus. These are worthy topics but have nothing to do with why the United States is in Iraq.
What Moore seems to be pioneering here is a reality film as an election-year device. The facts and arguments are no different than those one can glean from political commentary or recently published books on these subjects. Only the impact of film may prove greater than the printed word. So the real question is not how good a film is “Fahrenheit 9/11” — it is undoubtedly Moore’s weakest — but will a film help to get a president fired?
How Fair is Fahrenheit 911?
June 18, 2004 by