Fahrenheit 9/11

Released:  2004

Cast:  Michael Moore, George W. Bush

SUMMARY:  This film is a documentary chronicling the first presidential term of George W. Bush, particularly the September 11 terrorist attacks and the War on Terror.  The theories presented in the film are those of director Michael Moore; while some of these claims are unsubstantiated, this review is written as the film presents the story.  The film begins with the 2000 election, in which Al Gore was declared the winner of the state of Florida — only for Fox News (headed by a relative of Bush’s) announce that Bush had actually won the state; requests for recounts by the people were ignored, and the Supreme Court declared Bush the winner.  This led to a huge protest on Inauguration Day, and for the first time since 1977 (Jimmy Carter), the President did not walk in the inaugural procession.  During the first few months of his Presidency, Bush spent a large amount of time away from the White House, and ignored warnings that Osama bin Laden was planning to attack the United States.  On the morning of September 11, Bush was scheduled to visit an elementary school in Florida.  On the way, he learned of the first plane hit, but decided to visit the school as planned; in the classroom, he was told of the second plane hit, but finished his visit with the students before deciding on any action.

Michael Moore, the director, narrator and interviewer, then brings up the relationship between the Bush family and the bin Laden family, which spanned several decades and was extremely profitable for both sides.  Moore theorizes that Bush was more anxious to protect his familial and monetary interests than his country, and as such, he allowed 24 members of the bin Laden family to leave the U.S. after the attacks, without being questioned.  Continuing the theme of personal interest, a large motivating factor for the War in Afghanistan was Bush’s involvement with a natural gas pipeline designed to run through Afghanistan; he had simply been looking for an excuse to go into Afghanistan.  Bush used fear-inducing tactics to keep the Americans supportive of the war and of the new PATRIOT Act, which allowed supervision of personal communication methods, including phone calls.  These same tactics were used to justify the Iraq War, which initially was incredibly well-supported by both citizens and the media.  However, many of these people, beginning with the soldiers themselves, soon begin to question their purpose in Iraq and the goal of the war.

MY TAKE:  I usually try to avoid talking about politics, because in my experience most people don’t want to discuss things with an open mind, they just want to force their views on you.  As it’s impossible to not talk about politics in this review, I will try to be as fair as possible.  This is really a rather horrifying movie to watch, because it reveals just how much most people didn’t know about what the government was doing.  Yes, many of Moore’s theories are just that, but plenty of them have proof (like the Bushes relationship with the bin Laden family), and are usually backed up by a number of important people.  I was a kid during the 2000 election, and although I couldn’t vote, I remember the Florida controversy.  It’s still regarded as one of the most messed-up elections in history.  I also remember the terrorist attacks (like everybody else, I know exactly where I was), and the outrage and initial support for the invasions of both Afghanistan and Iraq.  While I was aware that they were not going as planned, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I learned (through the National Geographic Channel’s documentary on the 2000s, I think) that the intelligence claiming there were nuclear weapons in Iraq was flawed — and that the people in the government, including former General Colin Powell, knew this.  Essentially, they lied to the American people.  Now, I am aware that politicians lie, and I don’t believe that it is always necessary for the American people to know exactly what the government is doing.  However, I think you get into a really dangerous position when you invade another country without provocation, and on questionable intelligence.  It seems pretty clear that the Bush and bin Laden families had an established relationship, and although Osama was not part of this relationship, it appears as though the familial friendship had some impact on the decisions made after September 11.  Essentially, the film portrays Bush as, at best, an inept president, and at worse as somebody who put his own interests above those of the American people.

RATING:  Compelling but frustrating.

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