Reviews > Culture

Farenheit 9/11: All heat, no light

Culture | Reasonable arguments against the war in Iraq exist -- but this unbalanced screed displays none of them

Issue: "Kerry picks Edwards as VP," July 17, 2004

It's hard to imagine that, even in the surreal confines of Cannes, Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 was considered a good film. Fahrenheit received the film festival's top prize, and the big loser was Cannes' credibility.

Fahrenheit 9/11 (rated R for some violent and disturbing images, and for language) is disgusting, pathetic propaganda without the slightest shred of integrity. Reasonable arguments against the war in Iraq exist -- but this unbalanced screed displays none of them.

Mr. Moore and his supporters seem to think that the filmmaker's freewheeling style exempts him from every standard of objectivity. One example: In making the claim that the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan was completely ineffective (he might have, by the way, asked a few Afghans their opinion), Mr. Moore states that Osama bin Laden and "most of the Taliban" escaped the country. The image on screen is of a bunch of dark-skinned men piled on top of a tank, which is squealing around a corner on a dusty street. The audience doesn't know where this shot is from, who's on the tank, or where they're going. Mr. Moore cites no statistics to prove his point. Instead, he means for his audience to take his words at face value.

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That may sound like a minor point, but this is Mr. Moore's technique throughout the film: Make ridiculous, vague assertions, then toss an out-of-context image on screen to bolster the argument on an emotional, not rational, level. Here's another: When discussing the supposed lack of a threat posed by Iraq, the country is portrayed as a place of sunlight and smiles, with kids on bicycles and happy women (women!) shopping. When was the footage taken? Where was it taken? Is it at all representative of conditions in the country before the war? Mr. Moore couldn't care less.

With that attitude, how can he expect his audience to take him seriously?

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