Fahrenheit 9/11 (PG)

Film image
Michael Moore
Michael Moore

The ViewLondon Review

Review byMatthew Turner07/07/2004

Five out of Five stars

After his impromptu anti-Bush speech while collecting his Oscar for Bowling For Columbine ("Shame on you, Mr Bush! Shame on you!"), Michael Moore made a lot of enemies, both in Hollywood and among Bush supporters everywhere. Happily, the ensuing death threats and hate campaigns don't seem to have fazed him at all, as his new film sets its sights on Bush and his cronies and then opens fire with both barrels.

Moore's stated intention with the film, which won the Palm D'Or at Cannes, is to remove Bush from office come election day and after seeing the film, one can only hope that it happens. Incredibly, on its release, Fahrenheit 9/11 shot straight to the number 1 spot at the U.S. box office and is already on its way to the magic $100m mark, which would make it the most commercially successful documentary ever made.

The film opens with a brief recap of how Bush "won" the election and reminds us that all the other networks had called Florida (and therefore the Presidency) in favour of Al Gore, before the Fox network declared it for Bush and suddenly everyone changed their minds. Unsurprisingly, the man who took that decision was -yes!- a Bush crony. If that makes you angry, then get used to it, because the film is packed with similar incidents.

After some equally infuriating footage about Bush spending a large amount of his first year in office on vacation or playing golf, Moore turns up the heat after September 11th - one of the most effective sequences is of Bush, who, having just been informed of the planes hitting the World Trade Centre, then proceeds to sit blank-eyed in a primary school classroom for seven minutes. Moore wonders, "Was he thinking, 'Hmmm. Which one of my friends screwed me?'" and then illustrates the Bush family's financial connections to the Bin Ladens. It also reveals why the Bush administration avoided pursuing the Saudi connection to 9/11, despite the fact that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis.

All this would be bad enough on its own, but Moore also shows us how the nation was kept in fear through news broadcasts (a similar point was made in Bowling For Columbine) and how the USA Patriot Act was rushed through, despite its infringement on human rights.

Finally, the film looks at the war in Iraq, both at how Bush Ltd stood to gain financially from it and also at the human cost to the soldiers and their families.

Moore has learned the lessons of Bowling For Columbine and restricts his onscreen appearances to a bare, but effective minimum, such as when he tries to persuade senators to send their children to war, or has an encounter with the secret service after filming outside the Saudi Embassy (conveniently located opposite the Watergate Building).

It's true that, to a certain extent, the film preaches to the converted and indeed, there's not much here that hasn't been revealed elsewhere, not least in Moore's best-seller Dude, Where's My Country?. However, the film is well made, exhaustively researched and presents an overwhelmingly convincing case. By turns both funny and moving it is also certain to make you angry.

Film Trailer

Fahrenheit 9/11 (PG)
Be the first to review Fahrenheit 9/11...
01 Focus (15)

Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Rodrigo Santoro

02 Selma (12A)

David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tim Roth

03 Far from the Madding Crowd (tbc)

Carey Mulligan, Tom Sturridge, Matthias Schoenaert...

04 Chappie (tbc)

Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver, Sharlto Copley

05 A Most Violent Year (15)

Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, David Oyelowo

Content updated: 23/01/2019 05:07

Latest Film Reviews

Film of the Week

Foxcatcher (15)

Steve Carrell and Channing Tatum star in this real life inspired story of Olympic talent, fierce competition and murder.

UK Box Office Top 5 Films