Film Fahrenheit 9/11 has been an extra-ordinarily difficult film for professionals to review. Many of the pieces have discussed Michael Moore's argument or favourite moments within the film but have given few comments to the actual film making, a few cursory notes here and there about pacing or editing. I'm usually a fairly passionate reviewer - if I really like something the reader will find a three paragraph love-in. And I'm very passionate about this film, and happy that it's a cinema documentary people want to see. It's going to be interesting to see the effects it has in the coming months - will it really have power to sway the voting habits of a country?

What is startling for me is how little Moore has changed the way he presents the story. Although I missed the original release of Roger and Me (I was reading about robots in disguise at the time), for some reason I caught all of TV Nation when it turned up on BBC Two and that took me into my university years. Considering the controversy, it's interesting to note how close the new film is to the short ten minutes stories which appeared on television and his previous work.

Throughout, there is still the mix of old tv footage, stunts and illustrative contemporary interviews. The proportions of each have been reduced and increased depending upon the story being told but it is very much Moore's style and just as distinctive as latter day Woody Allen. So here he is still the guy standing toe-to-toe with security guards, making impossible demands of congressman and reducing the description of the US government's response to 9/11 as old clips from Dragnet.

It's a particularly good way of making an argument, but the weaknesses in the film occur when the voiceover drifts away. It's not that we need Moore telling us what to think of the images we are seeing, but it adds a coherence - at times the viewer is disgusted but at the same time wondering what the film-maker's point is other than isn't the world a horrible place. The images don't completely continue the story.

But when the complete story is being told, it's very persuasive. Republicans might want to attack Moore's motives and some of the internal logic, but I'm yet to hear anyone try and rationalize the clip after clip of their President compromising the stateliness of his office. Say what you like about the paradoxes inherent in Moore the man, but it's inspiring that given the tools he has that rather than going after the small fry he's now gone right to the top.

[I saw the film at a Saturday 3:45 showing and it was full. Many journalists and writer who have been to see the film with the public to see their reaction have talked about the heckling and the applause. At my showing the only time anything happened was when a clip of Britney Spears appeared in which she was asked about the Iraq war From out of the darkness deep male voice shouted: "Whore!" He was utterly silent through everything else ...]


  1. Anonymous11:52 pm

    I hope you don't mind my quoting that post - lovely blog!


  2. Anonymous8:39 pm

    nicely written review good to see someone writing about the technical aspects of the documentary rather than its political content the britney spears comment made me laugh out loud