Review: Fahrenhype 9/11 (2004)

July 19, 2008

There’s a funny thing about Michael Moore- I can’t remember the last person I talked to who liked him, and yet there doesn’t seem to be anyone willing to challenge him with another movie. Hopefully I can make it through this review without leaking my own personal feelings on the man’s politics, but
dammit, Fahrenhype 9/11 doesn’t make it easy.

If you haven’t heard of it, “Fahrenhype 9/11” is supposed to be a rebuttal to Michael Moore’s 2004 film, “Fahrenheit 9/11.” It’s right there on the box; “Unraveling the truth about ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ and Michael Moore”. There’s a level on which the movie lives up to that statement. Michael Moore is a spin doctor, and not even he denies that. He orchestrates situations in his movies that fit his worldview, even if they don’t synch up with reality.

An example: Moore names a company with close ties to Saudi Arabia, which he claims Bush benefited from by invading Iraq. The context that Moore leaves out is that several ex-Presidents and many other politicians also have close ties to this very company, including Clinton and Bush senior.

That’s interesting stuff, simply because Moore’s movie made a lot of money out of selling this kind of thing, and if you don’t agree with him, here’s some ammunition for your arguments against people who do. But when it ventures away from simply bashing Moore, it stumbles quite a bit. Moore’s movie, for all its faults, was pretty well-made and could probably convince some people who didn’t already agree with him. It had a good flow of ideas and presented its arguments in a somewhat organized fashion.

“Farhenhype 9/11” is not its equal on this level, and it really needs to be. There’s far too much use, for example, of music throughout the movie to evoke emotions. You can practically name them once it picks up- anger, patriotism, sadness, ire, etc. Fahrenhype is also bookended by shamelessly exploitative images and speeches from 9/11 and the soldiers of Iraq.

I’ve always thought that the image of the twin towers should have been in Michael Moore’s movie. “Fahrenhype” doesn’t make this point, but it does contain the images of the towers burning. Moore’s intent, no doubt, was to avoid claims of exploitation of the images for political gain, but you know what? People did die. Foreign policy should be shaped by debate and review of this footage, and it should not be forgotten, especially by a movie that claims to make an argument about it. Moore’s attempt at being
non-exploitative sort of backfired on itself in his movie. The use of these images in “Fahrenhype 9/11” is intended to simply evoke emotions of those days. Very little argument is made about them. It’s sort of funny, in a grim way, that “Fahrenheit” didn’t use the images at all, and that “Fahrenhype” uses them incorrectly.

Overall, I like the anger of “Fahrenhype 9/11,” sort of. It’s not directed at anything, and it doesn’t really come from anywhere, but it is there. There’s a certain outrage to be had against someone who makes their money by lying, and in this case, lying about really important things, but Fahrenhype 9/11 still isn’t the movie I wanted it to be, and it’s certainly not the movie that needs to be made on the other side of the Moore fence.

One more note. The movie has talking heads from a lot of experts, which is always good, on the subject of politics and 9/11, and then it has Ann Coulter. Her rants about liberals (in this movie, personal feelings aside
remember) are so obviously inspired by partisan politics that she adds nothing to the film. I think the filmmakers felt that as well, because she’s hardly in the movie at all. I think they shot a lot of footage of her in an interview and then realized that there was very little of it that was actually usable. To the film’s credit, most of its other sources are well-chosen and well-read on their subjects. There are also very few other
high-profile sources other than Coulter.

All in all, I’m kind of sick of seeing other filmmakers pulling their punches when it comes to Michael Moore. The question remains; why are they afraid of him? Is it because he’s rich? Or unashamadely liberal? Or loud? Or are they afraid his next movie might be about them? I’ve found some of his movies to be interesting, even if I didn’t agree with them (or did!). The point I’m trying to make here is that the great anti-Moore documentary remains to be made.

There was a film released a year or so after this one called “Michael Moore Hates America.” When I heard the title, I knew I had to see it, just to find out if it really believed it. MMHA didn’t really believe its title, but was
an examination of that rhetoric and of Moore’s tactics as well. It was a sincere attempt to understand Moore and what makes him so popular despite apparently being hated by so many people. Michael Moore Hates America had a lot of the same problems as “Fahrenhype 9/11,” but was a sincere effort. This film seems like it doesn’t want to step on too many toes, and for that, I can’t really recommend it. Check out the blogosphere at large for better attacks on Moore. In the meantime, maybe you can make a movie about him
yourself. Someone’s bound to.



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