Wednesday, June 30

Fahrenheit fever 

Well, if you’re not Harry Potter, the only other persona it pays to be these days is Michael Moore. His Fahrenheit 9/11 ignited waves of heat around the country when it finally opened on Friday amidst dissent from several conservatives. Michael Moore not only won accolades for it at Cannes, but is also now being pitched as the creator of the world’s most fetching documentary yet. A wonderfully woven lattice of fact and fiction and subtle, yet evocative insinuations, it is packed with plenty of laughs, dreadful satire, and some very unsettling moments. But the flip side of it all lies in the verity that the manner in which even the most genuine of facts are presented in a film, can often provoke twisted inferences.

The film is a livid attack on the Bush administration’s handling of the September 11 attacks, and the aftermath, but also has a curious comic angle to it. Michael Moore blames Bush for not having heeded to the warnings of an impending Al-Qaida attack on the United States, in August 2001. Instead, says Moore, Bush spent about 42 percent of his early tenure as president on vacation. The nuisances that began right after his litigious election to office are portrayed as having primarily heralded adverse times for Bush, leading up to stress and a peculiar lack of brass, which he’s ostensibly known to have beaten by taking time off on the ranch, chopping wood, or just having a good time clad in his ritzy cowboy outfit, while speaking into the camera preposterously. He is shown glued to his chair at a Florida classroom reading My Pet Goat to a bunch of kids for seven minutes, after being informed that a second plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. Links between the Bush family and the Saudis are spoken sardonically of, and Moore even mentions that some members of the bin-Laden family were allowed to leave the country after Sept. 13, sans even the nominal of formalities and rounds of questioning. At another instance, Bush is shown in a solemn anti-terrorism mood on a TV clip, and then scoffed at as he makes an almost quicksilver transition, beckoning the camera to watch his golf drive.

The latter half of the movie focuses on Iraq, its sovereignty, its people, several laymen and children that were killed ruthlessly by a war that was unwarranted in the first place, as Saddam was not in possession of weapons of mass destruction at all. There is also an elaborate clip that features an Iraqi woman hurling curses at the callous, unfeeling aliens that slaughtered her innocent family. Moore sweeps the tragic mood further into the American territory itself, with gruesome pictures of soldiers being killed, and also singles out a middle class family that lost their son.

All things considered, Fahrenheit is still going strong and promises to be a poignant picture for the average American soul. Without doubt, those in the pro-Bush camp are destined to find it outrageous, and those in the anti-Bush camp are most likely to gloat, but those in the middle must watch it in order to construe what it means to them. There may be good movies, and then bad, but the upshot of this one, like every other, indubitably lies in the eyes of the beholder. Either way, the Moore cronies are smiling.

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