Fahrenheit 9/11 review

:. Director: Dirname
:. Genre: Documentary
:. Running Time: 1:55
:. Year: 2004
:. Country: USA


Michael Moore is a formidable war machine: a highly skilled strategist, he furbishes his weapons to carry out the offensive against four years of George W. Bush's politics. However, in regards to cinema, once again he takes out the heavy artillery. Fahrenheit 9/11 advances chronologically. The film starts with the election scandal of 2000 and closes on the Iraqi mess. This documentary, which takes place in the highly topical context of the presidential campaign and an investigation into torture perpetrated by the American army in Iraq, resounds like a veritable anti-Bush lampoon.

The Moore method is well known. Based on the compulsive accumulation of evidence, intended to cause immediate and unconditional support of the audience, the method fills his didactic and demagogic objectives. Or how to make the demonstration that the greatest power in the world is led by an inefficient and irresponsible president. Moore relentlessly deals blow after blow of overwhelming evidence. In order to do this, he employs TV archives, confidential files and evidence. The director, usually reproached for obligingly putting himself in the scene, is discrete here. In revenge, his omnipresence passes through a logorrheic voice-over that doesn't hesitate to twist the sense of the images given to credulous spectator. To be sure not to miss a beat, Moore doesn't shrink back from anything: the effects of debatable editing and an ironic use of the music accompanying his scathing attack against Bush, who's been designated as the principal person responsible for the chaotic situation of the country.

Returning to the beginning of the film or the premises of the President's turbulent mandate. Bush has been just elected under doubtful circumstances. Moore stigmatizes the misinformation orchestrated by Fox News, directed by Ellis, the future President's cousin. He returns to the day of his nomination: the crowd boos the winner and throws projectiles on the official car. So much so that the presidential procession must be stopped. The film credits accompany the behind the scenes images, a metaphor of the game based on the lie that they're preparing to play, in which one sees the intervening politics, of which Bush, make themselves up. This first part of the film paints the portrait of a man in command of the most powerful country in the world, and does the utmost to show him as idler, assisted and incapable, ignorant of all the files in progress, letting his staff work in order to treat himself to 18 holes under the sun.

Of course, the attacks of September 11th constitute the highlight of the demonstration. Retaining the masterly lesson of cinema given by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu in 11'09''01, Moore evokes this major event of contemporary history.

Starting out with a black screen, the soundtrack of the tragic events of September 11 plays and imposes an insistent presence of cries, sirens and radio communications. Then, an image appears. New Yorkers howl, terrified by the inexpressible horror of the collapse of the towers. Moore keeps only the faces, contorted with tension and fear. The terrible reverse shot of this scene, certainly known and engraved in all memories, does not interest Moore, who's only worried about the excessive dramatization of his sequence.

As if this truncated point of view were not enough, Moore adds the expressive music of Arvö Part. This indecent process reveals Moore's relationship with cinema. The director does not believe in the simple force of the image. His manipulative cinema, in the prosaic sense of the word (Hitchcock was also manipulator), has all the qualities of propaganda film, an exercise all the more vain here, since the cause is understood. The audience is already conquered upstream. This emblematic sequence gives the general tone of the documentary. Moore doesn't abandon this moralizing position throughout the entire film, when he's not busy pouring on the most crude pathos.

Nevertheless, in spite of his failings, Moore is convincing in the part which denounces the collusion between the Bush family and the Bin Laden family. Showing the dealings between the United States and Saudi Arabia as well as the business of the pipeline in Afghanistan, whose negotiations began some time before the attacks, implicates companies currently present on the economic chess-board and is particularly effective. Going back to the argumentation used in Bowling For Colombine, Moore once again denounces the manufacture of fear by the media and takes a critical look at the contradictory declarations relating to the country's security the day after September 11th. Fear of the other is the source of launching the war in Iraq, motivated only by economic interests.

In a last part, much weaker, Moore pours on the easy pathos. Take a patriotic family, where several members devote their life to their country while serving in the army. Show the mother, proud of her children, hoisting the flag in front of her house every morning. Make her read a letter from her son in Iraq, listen to her tell how she came to terms with the announcement of his death, film her breaking down into sobs in public, and you will obtain a beautiful example of propaganda. Moore dwells too long on this unhealthy exercise. It's preferable when he leaves his cynicism, shouldered by a mocking tone, to express himself, in particular in the scene where he challenges elected officials to send their sons to the war, or at least to carry Marine recruitment leaflets in their briefcases. Despite all of the qualities of Fahrenheit 9/11, one leaves the screening with the feeling of having been manipulated, without the director giving us a chance to forge our own opinion, especially because of the last condescending segment on which the film ends. Quoting George Orwell, he assures that Bush will not be reelected. What about the audience? If Bush is not re-elected, which other war-horse for Michael Moore, who is definitely more of an activist than a filmmaker?

  Sandrine Marques & Moland Fengkov
  Translated into English by Anji Milanovic

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