'Fahrenheit 9/11': Michael Moore & The Burning Bush

Michael Moore in Fahrenheit 9/11
Fahrenheit 9/11 with Michael Moore

While criticizing U.S. president George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq, filmmaker Michael Moore was loudly booed by some at the 2003 Academy Awards ceremony. Not long afterwards, Moore decided he was gonna show 'em who was right. And show 'em he does with his Palme d'Or-winning documentary Fahrenheit 9/11, which relies on interviews, news articles, and footage edited out of newscasts to create a relentless indictment of the Bush government, its corporate backers, and the (corporate-owned and -controlled) American media.

Fahrenheit 9/11 begins with a dissection of the 2000 U.S. presidential election, in which Al Gore won the popular vote via the ballot box, but George W. Bush won the White House via his brother's Florida and his father's Supreme Court pals.

From there, Moore uses the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington to depict the long-standing close ties between the Bush dynasty and Saudi Arabia's Royal House of Saud and to illustrate W.'s use of the threat of terrorism as a weapon of dissent destruction.

Among other topics found in Fahrenheit 9/11 are the distortions used to justify the war against Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, the plight of an American mother whose son dies in the fighting, the thoughts of American soldiers stationed in Iraq, and the bloody destruction caused by the American-led bombing of that country.

Moore, of course, also aims his camera at greedy corporations and at the inept, dishonest American media. The former group is lambasted for its eagerness to profit from the ravages of the Iraq war, while the latter is criticized for its cowardice — e.g., burying stories deemed too controversial — and for its docile acquiescence to the White House political agenda.

Moore's attacks are particularly effective when he makes use of his caustic humor. Besides George Bush, he ridicules the American political system, the American electoral system, the American media, big corporations (especially Halliburton), several of the U.S. allies in the Iraq war, and pop singer Britney Spears.

Now, even though much of what we see in those sequences is, in fact, funny, informative, disturbing, and thought-provoking, Moore also sees fit to include unnecessary — and unproven — conspiracy theories, e.g., the Afghan war as a convenient means for Unocal to build a pipeline through that country. That is an unfortunate decision that undermines the picture's overall credibility. After all, even though Unocal has reportedly been involved in shady deals in Central Asia, nine years after the beginning of the war in Afghanistan there's still no Unocal pipeline in that highly volatile country.

Moore also loses ground when he attempts to personalize the war. Although some private moments are quite touching, Michael Moore, The Interviewer, comes across as both patronizing and exploitative. Additionally, for someone who has been so critical of the cowardice of both the Bush administration and the U.S. media, Moore lacks the courage to blame American military personnel for the abuse of Iraqi prisoners. Instead, he shifts the full responsibility for the heinous acts to George Bush.

Also worth noting is that Moore points his accusing camera at countless targets, but refrains from ever directing it at the millions of Americans who have thoughtlessly adhered to the dictates of the White House. “I'm a Man of the People Just Like You” Michael Moore prefers to take the stand that poor, little, innocent We the People have been duped by the big, bad Elite.

Yet, despite its flaws, Fahrenheit 9/11 is a landmark motion picture. Like the great classical tragedies (or your average soap opera), it deals with power, greed, lies, love, loss, corruption, ignorance, good, and evil — with the difference that the film's characters are real people.

To boot, the documentary even offers a new movie monster, more frightening than Alien, Predator, or even The Thing. No, not George W. Bush, who comes across more like Larry, Moe, or Shemp than Freddy Krueger. Fahrenheit 9/11's Frankenstein is Britney Spears, whose blind follow-the-leader mentality is representative of a large section of the human population. And that makes her scarier than any other movie monster of past or present.

FAHRENHEIT 9/11 (2004). Dir. / Scr.: Michael Moore.

'Fahrenheit 9/11': Michael Moore & The Burning Bush © 2004–2018 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s).
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5 Comments to 'Fahrenheit 9/11': Michael Moore & The Burning Bush


    Neither should 2000. It really was “2000-zero-zero-party over-oops-out of time”.


    The peaceful end of the Cold War resulting in no nuclear suicide for the planet was a milestone for all time. Reagan and Gorbachev proved that major differences can be resold without destroying humanity, freedom and human rights. Yes, after 1989 there still would be scumbag dictators causing problems. Manuel Noriega, Gadhafi, Cedras, Aided, Milosevic, Saddam and others were “worse than Hitler”.

  3. Elefant

    the year 2001 should not be repeated

  4. scott johnson

    Michael is right!!!!! Republicans are a DISGRACE to this nation!!!!! George W. Bush his old campaign, his daddy and mommy, his wife, his cousin, his brother and all the bush's!!!!! All REPUBLICANS!!!!! They are all LOSERS!!!!! All these corporations, specialy halliburton along with these republicans are very dishonest and corrupted!!!!! Britney Spears is an idiot!!!!! The entire system is a failure!!!!! Everything Clinton built up for the good for all the citizens bush broke down. Everything! Such as our economy. Thanks to G.W. Bush are our economy is shot! Obama is trying to repair it, however the damage is already done and it's severe! What's really sad is they knew exactly what they were doing and did it purposely. Their is information that BIN LADEN is NOT died. Then they say he is. Their's other information revealing that BIN LADEN doesn't even exsist, never did! It was made up by our government (Republicans and corporations,halliburton and others)to take Irag's oil! (for $) It's all a lie!!!!! Our government lies!!!!! Everthing Obama does for the good of the nation and the people the republicans always try to oppose. However all republicans are losing all their power! Thank you Michael for helping all the truth come out to light!

  5. Alexey Sapozhnikov

    Hello Sir Michael Moore. My name is Alexey. I have lived in Russia in
    Snezhinsk. Our town is very small and on this great honor for me to
    write you a letter. I was very happy when I found your e-mail, because
    I can not express in words how I admire you and your creativity. I
    love all your work without exception! You are a great person and doing
    great work and make a great contribution to world culture and
    heritage. I've got all your records and work. I also closely follow
    your work and admire you! And believe me, the admirers of your talent
    is very much on our planet! Though our town as small as 3 to 4
    kilometers and live in it all 50000 people, and there are people who
    admire you. I am one of your many fans. By this, I want you dear Mr
    Moore ask sincerely that you would send me your autograph on your
    photo. It is just wonderful, if you send an autograph in my name. I
    beg you! Please! This will make me the happiest man! I put your
    picture with an autograph in the frame and will each time to look at
    her and cheering. I understand that you are very busy man, but I hope
    that you made me happy. I wish you success, health and all the best.
    With respect and great hope, your loyal fan of Alexey.