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2004.06.24

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karen

Goodness! 45 minutes lag time between my screening and yours, I should have sensed the buzzing of the Filmbrain in the air. Our boy Out of Focus was supposed to be around those parts too I think, but then he had to get a hair cut or something. Excuses, excuses. I'm awaiting his response as well as the other two you mentioned. Anyhow, I liked your visceral post-screening 3 am response as well as this one, it offers up the flavor of the evening which I think you captured well. There was a buzz in the air on 2nd Ave, which is always one of my favorite things about seeing movies in packed houses on the night they're released. I'm impressed you remembered Lili Lipscomb's name, while the utter pathos of her reaction to her son's death did make me cry, I couldn't recall her name for certain and when you IMdB the film, the only "cast" members listed are GWB and MM. Interesting the thought that anyone could potentially cross-reference those two in a search on the site. "I wonder what other films W has appeared in..."

Katherine

I haven't seen Farenheit because it hasn't been released in Canada yet. (Moore is releasing it earlier than he'd originally intended in the hopes it will dissuade the Canadian electorate from voting for a Bush equivalent. We go to the polls next week.)

Regarding Bush and his behaviour in the classroom the morning of of 9/11: Bush testified before a senate committee that he'd watched the first plane hit the WTC on a tv set up in the school corridor outside the classroom. This allegedly occurred before his visit with the class. It turns out he could never have seen that videotape at the time he claims because it simply didn't exist - the tv stations didn't have it, no one was airing it.

Regardless of when he found out what was happening, it seems unbelieveable that a President wouldn't have up to the minute information on a significant terrorist attack going on - the worst the US had ever experienced - so obviously he knew. I mean he of all people has access to the technology to make knowing possible. There's no fucking way he didn't know.

The question is when did he know and why did he continue sitting in that classroom after he had to know? His lies were compounded by subsequent actions: most notably his permitting the Bin Ladens to travel home while all other planes were grounded. There was evidence (from French Intelligence) that the bin Laden family had been sending millions of dollars to Osama in Afghanistan (the family's move to appease him and keep him from visiting and bothering the family), but the fact is they funded - knowingly or not - his terrorist training camps and all these attack plans. The CIA and the FBI would have had to interview these people if they'd remained on US soil, but because the Bushs' and the bin Ladens are such close friends with deep financial ties, the Bush family ensured they were spared the embarrassment and the publicity. As Bush made his "you're either on our side or the side of terror" speeches. they were flying home. Never to be asked a single question. The other interesting coincidence is that Bush senior was meeting with Osama's dad in New York just blocks from the WTC on the morning of 9/11. Their "welcome, my old friend" greetings from that day are on tape.

Although Bush strikes me as semi-literate and completely incapable of being a 'statesman' - he's an embarrassment on the international stage - he doesn't exactly strike me as stupid. I mean I suppose the word stupid is accurate in describing his apparent ignorance about a good many things, but he's very capable in the 'cunning and ruthless' department and that takes some degree of intelligence. He's inextricably tied up in the Bush clan which has a history of diabolical scheming (his dad was the CEO of Iran-Contra). His mother could be nicknamed Diablette, she's a right wing ball buster, like a lot of the extreme Republican women. George Bush, like Paris Hilton, is the perfect creation of his morally bankrupt family. Interestingly he views his father as a wimp. I wonder, not whether he's stupid, but whether he's sociopathic as he seems incapable of true and meaningful empathy. All of his expression seems contrived, a bad acting job.

If you have a chance to see Fog of War, Bush and his compatriots - Condie, Rumsfeld, and the others - aren't morally unlike Robert McNamara. McNamara was brilliant; he's a genius and a far cry intellectually from the C average Bush. But morally, they're a lot alike. Bankrupt. That's what scares me about these people.

scotty

I'm eager to join this discussion, but I can't get a ticket to the fucking movie...

In NYC, anyway, I don't think it's the right-wing interest groups' actions to dissuade theatres from showing the film that has led to a lack of adequate screens. It's a conspiracy theory I DO subscribe to: NYC theatre owners consistently underbook movie screens to drive hype and demand. It's impossible to get a seat to new movies in this town unless you plan way in advance, something I just haven't gotten the hang of.

I hope Moore's film does throw some votes Kerry's way, but I don't see how it could. Is anyone who's not already a liberal or a Democrat going to go see the movie? Is anyone reading this an undecided who plans to see the movie? I'm very interested to know...

Marleigh

The plan is to drag my roommate off to see it tonight, and failing that to go by myself tomorrow. I will report back when I have a proper response prepared.

FIlmbrain

Excellent Marleigh, can't wait.

Scotty -- funny thing is that Kerry (or the dems) get barely a nod in the film. (If anything, serves up more scorn than praise for the dems.) Some critics have said that to achieve his goal he should have openly encouraged voting for Kerry. Really glad he didn't.

David

Openly encouraging people to vote for Kerry would have been a really bad idea. I don't really care for any of the candidates, but I want Bush out of office asap so Kerry it is.

The more sake soaked reviews, the better. Keep up the good work.

N

VIRTUAL REALITY, The War On TV.

Good old tactics, Filmbrain, don't always make good critics. Who would suspect anything when you start your article by stating that the film is more an "old-school Soviet montage approach", a "propaganda piece". Who would then dare to question your objectivity when you conclude that “Moore doesn't overplay (Lili Lipscomb story), nor does he include it for manipulative purposes." and that his movie "captures the essence of the man that will most likely be remembered as one of the worst presidents in history".

Well, does it? I am quite honoured to be associated with Godard who, by the way, comes from France, like me, and you understand where we come from, don't you. We're just French intellectuals who "may not understand what Moore is trying to achieve". Where I come from, as Filmbrain may not be aware of, is a originally working class family: my grand parents may not have a great education, they are able to discuss, they are able to listen to you and they can watch a program with a critic eye. And they are no exception. And throughout the political activities of my parents, I got to know that the folks from the "heartland" in France deserve some credit, despite who they are, despite their ideas, despite their beliefs.

Oh dear Filmbrain, if I understand "what Moore is trying to achieve"? I understand it too well.
What makes TV News (shall I say FOX News) mentally "bearable", are the commercials. Here the commercials are replaced with Michael Moore's funny jokes. But if you analyze this non documentary with scrutiny, it follows exactly the same pattern (one "information" - sometime just pure emotional trash and in between you have "entertainment" - commercials, sport news, or weather forecast). Moore's non documentary follows the same exact pace, using the same tricks. Is Fox Channel an example to follow? Do we have to downgrade the quality of our messages to be heard? If this is what you believe, then, there is no more hope for our values and our Democracy, and we shall decline as a civilization, and we deserve it. I just don't share these views that alienating the people will bring them back to you. And if you think that they have to see burnt corpses and prime time drama on a big screen, because it's REAL, or should I say because they are too stupid to know what war is about and "need to see", as Filmbrain states it, although most of the killings are now announced on a daily basis (at least the American troops), although some (softer) pictures are front paged everywhere. No they need to see more, they need to be disgusted, they need to be aggressed (emotionally), and this way - of the ugly, of the gore, of the guts - they will understand.

If I follow this reasoning, I guess people have to travel to the Sun, if they "really" want to understand that the Sun is burning. But then, well, ask Icarus and he would tell you it's a bad idea. He was trying to reach the Truth. So Michael Moore claimed to have done about Bush and co. If 911 is a documentary, then it's a documentary about a virtual reality, where nothing is "as it was". I guess, dear Filmbrain, that you already know what I am referring to (and are you really proud of that one?): "What's the most successful Holocaust film? The most successful Jesus film? Answer in both cases -- the most visceral one." The most obvious answer would be: it depends on what you consider a success. I thought (how naive of me, or should I say, like Filmbrain would, how French) that there were words in English which were: education, pedagogy, information, enlightenment, and so many like these ones that meant something. I thought that Cinema (if not TV) could be one of the support of transmitting information, of education, trying to make people think and debate, pulling them toward greater horizons. This movie, by its nature, doesn't open any debate, the debate is closed from the beginning, there is no room, and no escape. There is no deep questioning, there's just preaching of views which are not shared by most of the people who intend to vote for Bush. There is no "real" listening (the woman who first support the war in Iraq), there's just exploitation (of her drama after her son is dead). FOX News does the same thing. But FOX News works, because a lot of people are ready for it, because there is in this country a very effective procedure of indoctrination that starts at an early age at school (pledge of allegiance), and follows every single step of your life (sports events, two party system, religious values and Puritanism, fear of nudity, fear of the police, and so on...), because the US are a nation under God.

Fahrenheit 911 is a non-documentary that will miserably fails, despite its huge marketing, to swing people's vote and more importantly, their understanding.

Btw
As for the real information, it could have been interesting to point out this very little known fact (even amongst the liberals):

http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/0331/mondo3.php


Toto

N argues that the showing of shocking imagery does nothing to further Moore's arguments, and that, as such, this display lowers the film to the level of sensationalist "news" television à la Fox News. And this argument he supports by denouncing the exploitation of the emotions of Lili Lipscomb in the film as yet another sob-story.

I disagree. We see Lili, calm before the news of her loss, then again, with the support of her family, sharing her loss with the camera. She doesn't break down, though her voice rises in suppressed grief as she reads her son's last letter. Finally, we see her again in Washington, where Moore met her again at her own request, as she takes time to visit the seat of the government who sent her son to war. It is only here that she breaks down, after the incredibly insensitive comments of a passer-by.

It is this background that Moore provides that takes away the sensationalism that N objects to. We know this woman, at least superficially. From Moore's introduction we know her to be an upright generous member of her community. We know her to be courageous, by the fact that we see her sitting before cameras, holding her emotions in check, recounting her son's death. And finally we see her crack, just after admitting that she couldn't believe coming to Washington would be so hard. Why is it Washington that breaks her down?

We also see an Iraqi woman, suffering in much the same way, mourning the loss of loved ones, her words punctuated with pained praises to Allah. This is closer to N's criticism: we have little context in which to place her; this is a "sound-bite" - raw and painful - the sort of thing we have become inured to by television news. We are touched by her plight, but somehow are less capable of taking it to heart. But her story comes among all those "disgusting" images which N regards as pure sensationalism, but which I have argued are there to wake us up: to take the argument against war in Iraq from the intellectual to the visceral. Demagogy, yes, but with justification.

And it does make a difference. Although there were reports of abuse in Iraqi prisons beforehand, the scandal and subsequent public inquiry into the Abu Ghraib mistreatment of detainees only started when Seymour Hersh showed the pictures he had received on 60 Minutes and in the New Yorker magazine.

Of course, N is right in saying that the intellectual knowledge of a fact or an event should provoke the same reaction in us as the sensorial stimulation of images. But this isn't the case. The reports of abuse led to no outrage, no curiosity about the reasons for abuse, little sympathy for the abused. Nobody questions the "bad apple" theory: there's no reason not to. With the pictures, everything changes. All of a sudden, General Taguba's report is read with earnest interest, questions are asked, scandal ensues.

So images do have power. That power is largely because they are sensational, in that they impact our senses and emotions. Does that make the use of sensational images perforce sensationalism, where the only reason to show shocking images is to create sensation? That's voyeurism, pornography. No, here, whether it is Moore's film or Hersh's article, the sensation is there to make people ask questions. In both cases they succeed, admirably.

I am part of a very lucky generation (in the West) for which a majority has not been directly exposed to war or its kind of violence. Not since WW2 for most of Europe, at least, longer for most of the US, have we been confronted by the reality that images of war reflect. In this regard, the events of September 11th, 2001 had even more of an impact.

We regard war images from 50, 100 years ago as documentary, rather than incendiary. They seem to belong to a remote, bloodier time. Moore shows us tehir equivalent of today. Maybe if the images were those of WW1 or WW2, in grainy, high contrast black and white, and not images of an ongoing conflict, showing the defects of television and image compression we have all become used to, N would have been less upset (History Channel rather than Fox News)?

scotty

Well, I've finally seen the film. I agree with Toto about the Lipscomb and Iraq War portions of the film: Moore presents this stuff remarkably responsibly, and creates a powerful and persuasive case against the war and the Bush Administration.

The last half of Fahrenheit 9/11 is incredible. It's too bad that the first half is a huge mess. My feelings about the movie are extremely mixed, and although I think it's a shame that a movie with this much going for it is partially undone by its filmmakers' own worst instincts, I'm still recommending people see it. It's worth it, if only for the 45 minutes or so of Lipscomb's tragic story intercut with the kinds of images that the American media should have been showing us all along, but weren't.

I've posted my full thoughts on the movie here, and I invite everybody to read them if they're interested.

N

Just a little reminder, for those who think it's been since WWII since "we have been confronted by the reality that images of war reflect", some examples: images of Algeria , Vietnam, Kosovo, Rwanda.

As for the historical value of Michael Moore non-documentary, it has no more than the topic itself which is still of the present day and has yet to become history.

I should practice more (trash) TV viewing, which at least would give me an understanding of why Moore's video fascinates you. That's what I'm missing. What's really needed is people who can change things, and Michael Moore is not one of them. You're so desperate (about America, which you believe is too stupid to understand things) that you'd follow this guy, whatsoever. I am not.

Toto

Firstly, I would like to thank N for putting words into my mouth. My experience hasn't led me to think Americans as a rule are any more stupid than people I know from elsewhere. I do have a feeling that many would wish they were. More on that later. I think his conclusion about my desperation are a little misplaced too.

With the possible exception of Vietnam, we see precious little footage of war after WW2. But I was talking about seeing this sort of thing in vivo: many people haven't been there. When was the last time your country was overrun? When was the last time it was occupied by foreigners?

My point is that this hasn't happened in the West since WW2. It's happened elsewhere. But not in the USA or in western Europe.

Can Moore change things? On his own, no, obviously. I don't think he pretends that. He has an agenda; it's up to us whether we want to follow it. But it's not as if we need to sign up, or even follow him. He is expounding his thinking. He wants us to think the same way, based on the facts he presents and the feelings his film projects. The question is, do we think the same way, or can he persuade us to? Obviously his methods of persuasion have no effect on N, here, and with me he's preaching to the converted. I am not "desperate" to follow Moore, here; but I am desperate to see a change in administration.

I have been pretty fascinated since arriving in the USA with the different ways people think here. I have seen some who always vote the same way, come Hell or high water; others again who will only vote in their own very personal interest. Those who trust the GWB's faith in God merits their faith in him, and those who would "never trust somebody who's been 'born again'". There are many I feel who want to keep hold on their blinkers for fear of confronting unsettling facts about the world and their country's position in it, and those who scratch at their country's faults with morbid interest and very little hope. Some are woefully ignorant of the rest of the world, apparently through lack of ready information, and perhaps a lack of curiosity. Others are completely different, having left small towns to travel abroad, to study or otherwise to experience the rest of the world and to understand its people. Like I said, Americans no more stupid than other people I've met, and there are things in the national psyche that I would be only too pleased to see in other countries where I have lived. I have a feeling that living in smaller countries does forcibly expose you more to what goes on outside; in America, I feel, that external influence is rather further away, and I think that influences how people think about the world beyond their borders. In this sense I think it requires rather more curiosity to follow events in the outside world here than elsewhere, and to a degree this does manifest itself in a sort of collective disinterest. And I think this is encouraged by the media, especially television, as I have experienced it. It appears to me also that the profit motive driving most media has led to a dumbing down of the quality of easily accessible news. There appears to be a suspicion of intellectual debate, and often television current affairs shows with present both sides of an important issue in a tiny space of time, with an openly biased presenter. Finally, what news is made available tends to be local or national, and only international if it has some direct concern of the American people.

Moore's film opens things up. He presents a potted history of the last four years as he sees them, through news footage. He outlines his thinking, often by presenting those people who led his thinking in that direction. And this he does in his own non-intellectual bar-talk, entertaining, glib way. (Here I disagree with Scotty - the first half of the film, in which this happens, is perhaps a mess, but it is necessary; it is with this part that he attempts to demonstrate how unworthy Bush is to run the country, and to lay the burden of responsibility for this war on his shoulders. The second part, that Scotty finds incredible, has little purpose without this.) His argument is completely one-sided; he does not present counter arguments at all. He just leads us through his thinking, with supporting news footage. Then he shares his feelings.

Is this justifiable? Why not? You don't have to agree with what he says, you may not agree with the way he says it. You may object to his attempts to stir up your emotion. It's not subtle. It's a slap in the face. You may be insulted by it. You make be woken up.

Now I believe his film has documentary value. Although his arguments aren't new, he has assembled many sound-bites that support them and give them more weight than you would get in a five minute panel discussion between publicity spots. People may not know some of these facts, may have forgotten them, or may never have connected them. People may not have read the recent flurry of books that Moore has obviously read and been influenced by. People may not have been able to find the facts that Moore has raked up. So it's an eye-opener. It's a diatribe. It's a polemic. Take it or leave it.

Is it a good film? Well, I think so, because I think it succeeds in presenting what it sets out to present. Its methods are sometimes crude and heavy-handed, in a style that is Moore's own. But with that second part it does show a fundamental humanity, with, I believe, a certain love of America. Moore may hate what has become of his country and especially of his hometown of Flint, but both obviously occupy a special place in his heart. He empathises with its citizens, who share his origins. This is why I don't believe this portion of the film is sensationalism. Moore relates to the people who appear in his film; he obviously considers himself one of them (others have disagreed with him on that). And he lets them speak for themselves. They sounded true.

scotty

"It is with [the first] part that he attempts to demonstrate how unworthy Bush is to run the country, and to lay the burden of responsibility for this war on his shoulders. The second part, that Scotty finds incredible, has little purpose without this."

But he doesn't demonstrate how unworthy Bush is to run the country in the first half. He argues that he is, and he mocks, makes fun, and capitalizes on Bush's many shortcomings. I didn't find convincing demonstration of his biggest points, though: Most importantly, that Bush is in the pocket of the Saudis. It's an important issue, and one that concerns me very much. That's why I'm not willing to take Moore's conjecture at face value, without compelling evidence. I still say the first half of Fahrenheit 9/11 is made up, mostly, of circumstance and cheap shots.

Which is fine--he's Michael Moore, after all, and that's the kind of movie he makes. But the power of the second half isn't at all dependent on the nonsense at the beginning. I suppose the fact that this President is a smirking fundamentalist and an incurious spaz makes his unjustified war just that much worse. But the scorch and stir of the last half of the movie come from Moore's righteous anger, Lipscombe's grief, and the revelatory frankness of his found Iraq footage--NOT from the sketchy connections and manipulative editing at the beginning.

FIlmbrain

Scotty, Toto and of course N -- I've not had the time this week to digest all of your comments -- but rest assured I shall over the upcoming extended weekend.

N, you better look out. . .

Jimmy

As Filmbrain, N and Toto know, I was out of the country when the film came out. I finally got around to seeing it yesterday. (For what it’s worth, I am in New York, and I had no trouble seeing it at the drop of a hat. I went to a 4:30 show, which may have made a difference.) I thought that seeing the film was sort of a civic responsibility. I entered the theater in a very serious mood.

Of course, Moore’s films are always entertaining. The audience was cackling hysterically for much of the film. There were some times this seemed inappropriate. For example, the sequence that shows the Bush cabinet being made up before appearing on television to announce the Iraq invasion, with Bush stifling a smirk just before the camera rolled, provoked disgust in me, but the audience was rolling. I can appreciate the dark humor of the scene, but my stomach was too knotted to laugh. Largely, however, when the audience laughed I think it was the reaction Moore intended to provoke.

I was reminded of Moore’s feud with the MPAA in recent weeks, attempting to have the film’s R rating reduced. He explicitly said he wanted teenagers to see the film, since they may well be called up for service in the ongoing War on Terror. Certainly, Toto’s remark that Americans are no more stupid than anyone else should go without saying. And, yes, we as a society are quite chary of intellectuals (I think that’s rooted in a suspicion of authority, but whatever). But it is hardly a secret that least-common-denominator mass-media saturation bombing has made it impossible for mere text to compete for the attention of American youth. This is Moore’s audience. Fahrenheit 9/11 is a visual assault capable of actually riveting slack-jawed, inattentive suburban American kids. This was his stated goal, and I think he probably succeeded (though I have yet to interview a teenager who saw the film to confirm my thesis).

In this light, I think the scene with the Marine Corps recruiters was brilliant. The two recruiters are made into such snake-oil salesmen that it’s hard to believe that a kid who saw the film would ever fall for their hustle. And I really don’t think that Moore’s use of Lipscomb in the film was cynical. Yes, the film was a polemic. Moore’s agenda is not hidden. But I agree with Toto that Moore’s treatment of Lipscomb is sensitive and considerate. He doesn’t exploit her; he empathizes with her.

I also agree with Scotty that Moore presented quite a few facts, mostly about the Bush-Saud connection, without much support in the beginning of the film. But these are mostly things I have seen supported elsewhere. From a documentary point of view, I think this film does an excellent job of simply gathering and presenting key points. A curious reader wouldn’t have difficulty following up most of Moore’s assertions. And frankly, I hope viewers don’t question but swallow the film hook, line and sinker. Ultimately the real value of this film will be measured in November.

Just considering Fahrenheit 9/11 as a film, however, I felt that it fell a little short of Bowling for Columbine. Columbine really crescendoed near the end with Charlton Heston’s callousness, and the interview with Marilyn Manson was incredibly gripping. The animated sequence in the middle really drove home Moore’s thesis in Columbine. I didn’t feel there were any such apices in Fahrenheit 9/11. It was more level and even sober. As Filmbrain observed, Moore appeared in this film far less than in his previous ones. Clearly Moore had a different goal this time around. Like Toto, I sort of felt pummeled from start to finish. Perhaps that raw assault will help Moore achieve his goal. Time will tell.

N

Considering the lenghty response of Toto, I decided to focus on a couple of assertions, which are really outstanding:

"With the possible exception of Vietnam, we see precious little footage of war after WW2."
Looks like Toto hasn't been watching any news or documentaries since the past 20 years. As for the exception of Vietnam, can I remind Toto that Vietnam war corresponds to the exact moment where war started to be documented with images and films, have you heard of War Photographers and War Reporters? And by the way, all the footage from Iraq hasn't been filmed by Moore himself.

"But I was talking about seeing this sort of thing in vivo: many people haven't been there."
I not sure about the "In Vivo" signification (which is a biological / medical term), but I assume you meant "on the site of the conflict". So, according to you, Moore's non-documentary litterally "beams us" in Iraq, amongst the soldiers, the wounded, the dead. How didn't I realize that? I thought it was just a movie.

"When was the last time your country was overrun? When was the last time it was occupied by foreigners?"

answer: WWII (but what does it have to do with what we are arguing about?)


"My point is that this hasn't happened in the West since WW2. It's happened elsewhere. But not in the USA or in western Europe"

Thank you for this interesting information. But then again, have you seen footage of the Red Khmers in Cambodia, with the piles of human bones, have you seen the images of the recent Kosovo, of the terrible Rwanda. Or have you missed it all?

Then again, you claim that Michael Moore makes a good account of the past four years, so is it a movie about the past four years, or a movie about WEar In Iraq?

Finally, as for the good documenatry value pointed out by Toto and Jimmy, one can conclude after seeing this film, that the fact that UK is part of the coalition, is not relevant, that Blair unconditionnal support to the war (and therefore to Bush, but then, it's more difficult to portray Blair as a complete idiot, isn't it?) doesn't really matter , and that Iraq before war was a nice country, with happy people, happy families and happy children (the footage just before the bombing shows that), ignoring that the Iraqi people were suffering an murderous embargo for years (with a record Child mortality rate) and also that Iraq was (is?) a dictature.

Propaganda? yes.
Effective? I don't know.
Documentary? Not really.

Jimmy

Just a couple of remarks in response to N's last paragraph or so.

First, yes, I was struck by the fact that when the Coalition of the Willing was enumerated, the UK, Spain and other significant supporters were left out. Clearly he was trying to make a specific point in that sequence. Blair did turn up quite briefly in the Bonanza trailer. But Moore's purpose was explicitly to oust Bush, not to document the war. I agree, if you only watch this film, you'll get a pretty distorted image of the war. But (a) he admits he's biased, (b) it's a bias I endorse, and (c) it's a bias you don't get from too many other sources in the mainstream media. So I have no objection.

Second, regarding the condition of Iraq before the war, the embargo was not Saddam's doing but ours. Yes, the embargo was lifted after Saddam was overthrown, but we did not go to war against the embargo. I'm certainly no fan of Saddam, and yes, he was a dictator. But an article in The New York Times a couple of months ago quoted Iraqi women as saying that under Saddam they were not afraid to go to the market or the mosque, but now they are afraid to leave their homes lest they be raped. A dictatorship is hardly an ideal state, but it is a state. We have left them with nothing. I think Moore's point was that Bush's portrait of prewar Iraq was quite distorted.

Regarding propaganda film vs. documentary, I'll just leave you with a friend's succinct remark: "It's nice to have all the reasons I hate Dubya wrapped up in a nice little two-hour package."

Toto

Once again N misses my point. This was simply that I, and many others, have only experienced war through others; not directly. I also comment that this was not so much the case in WW2 when the military draft sent huge numbers of men to fight, and when much of the civilian population of Europe was buffeted around. Of course it's happened since, elsewhere, but again, this experience is second hand. (This wasn't the case for my parents: both were refugees at some point during the war, my father has yet to return to his homeland. It isn't the case for a cousin of mine, an officer who has lost men under his command.)

I know about these other wars: I was alive and aware of them when they happened. But how many historical documentaries do you get about them? Less, I would contend, than those concerning WW2. Probably because they are still considered too recent and might disturb audience sensibilities, and their attitude towards leaders who are still around to receive criticism.

We do hear about current wars, conflicts, or whatever. We do see footage. We do have notions of what's happening. But as it happens, we rarely get much depth (except in some newspapers and very few television services). And then the even is swept away from our memory as time moves on, often before the dust has settled. The media rarely return to such matters; it's left to "historians". Everybody else forgets, or end up with the distorted views of the time, without the perspective that time brings. When such things do appear, be they television documentaries, books or newpaper retrospectives, I welcome them. I have read some very interesting books and articles; seen some excellent television documentaries.

So my only experience of war is indirect. Although I hope it stays that way, I also want to understand it. War isn't just about peoples fighting for some reason or another; it's also about individuals. You have to remember what that means when you hear "another six soldiers were killed in Bagdad today." Another six coffins with the Stars and Stripes; another company left in fear about their fate, with mounting hatred for their faceless enemy; another six families who have lost father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister.

Moore's presentation of the current war reminds me of that. What did he remind you about? More television? Great.

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