Fahrenheit 9/11

On November 9, 2002, I began my essay on Bowling for Columbine: White Men with Guns 



“The massacre of April 20, 1999 at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado affected our national psyche very deeply. Eric Harris’ and Dylan Klebold’s actions that day remain mysteriously or at best unsatisfactorily unexplained by a hodgepodge of accusations and ideas. I found Michael Moore’s haunting, ironic, and pseudo- documentary as a means to explore and examine the culture that would allow the killing of one’s fellow students, teachers and themselves to make sense.”

The terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001, affected our national psyche very deeply. Osama Bin Laden’s actions that day remain mysteriously or at best unexplained by a hodgepodge of accusations and ideas. In Fahrenheit 9/11 Moore spends most of the documentary drawing a web of connections between the Bush family’s financial activities and the Saudi’s and then the industrial/financial beneficiaries of this war – of all war. And he returns to his native Michigan to show how the poor are being recruited to fight this war – all war.

The US invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003, continues to affect our nation’s psyche very deeply. President George W. Bush’s decisions, rationale and actions that day remain mysteriously or at best unexplained by a hodgepodge of conflicting statements and lack of transparency. I found Michael Moore’s satirical, cynical and chilling psuedo-documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 a means to look at the tragedy of the war in Iraq from a perspective that the US news media is just getting around to, and very tentatively at that.

Let me tell you about my experience of going to see this film today. I went to a multiplex that sits at a cross-section of racial and social diversity here in Los Angeles. Everyone came to the 2:00pm showing in theater 15. African-Americans, Asians, Caucasians, Latinos; men and women; all age groups, cultures and classes. When I go to the theater to review movies, I always go during the week, and during the day. Hardly anyone is there. Today, the theater was almost full. It took me more than five minutes to get out of the parking garage after… at 4:00pm. This was a first for me.

Three elderly folks sat next to me and I chatted with one of the women. I asked if she came with Moore’s vision already, and she said, “Yes.”

I have never been to a political rally, but I was at one today. Moore’s editing and ability to find Bush at his fumbling and ridiculous worst made people laugh and then cheer – not from humor but because the alternative would have been to cry.

Before leaving the theater, I turned to the older lady next to me and asked her, “What did you think?” “It broke my heart.” She put her face into her hands, crying.

As I neared the exit door, I asked two young African American males what they thought of the film. “We work for that guy.” “Who, Michael Moore?” “No, Bush. We work for Homeland Security. They have us doing b.s.” (quote.) “So, will you really go to vote in November?” “Who, for Bush? Not for him, man.” I responded, “No, will you actually go out and vote, as an American?” “Heck, yeah!”

Coming out of theater 15, the line for the next showing of F 9/11 was queing up – roped off to contain the growing numbers. Tuesday afternoon at 4:00pm.

As I neared the parking garage, I overheard two young men and a young woman talking. One man said, “Who am I going to vote for? Not Bush.” The other said, “Yeah, but not Kerry either.” The first man said, “Well, there’s always Nader.”

Will this be our voting decision process in November?

Before I left the theater, I turned once again to the older lady, and extended my hand. “I am a Catholic sister. I think what we need to do is pray very hard.” She took my hand and sqeezed it and said, “I’m a Methodist. And yes, let us pray together.”

I don’t know what else I can say. Once you know Moore’s style, you have to decide if you believe him or not. Sure, he pulls some slight-of-hand with the editing, but little in the film surprised me. What was revealing were the connections between Bush and the Saudi’s and oil. If what Moore says is true, is true, then Houston,we, as moral, ethical, caring human beings, have a bigger problem than we ever imagined.

Last Friday, on The Today Show, Matt or Katie asked the White House Communications man if he was going to see F 9/11. He replied no, that if he wanted to see fiction he’d go see Shrek 2.

I think some folks may be in denial.

What really troubled me in the film, however, was the nihilistic attitude toward war. In one scene (it looked unedited), Bush is on the golf course and he says about the war, “We have to stop the terrorism…” Then he picks up his golf club and says almost without missing a breath, “Now watch this drive!” The juxtaposition of our young men and women dying in Iraq, as well as the Iraqi women and children makes for strong viewing. In this scene in particular, Bush seems to convict himself without help from anyone else.

See it, and draw your own conclusions. Now is the time for critical thinking, for inquiry. And Moore’s work deserves it as much as the mainstream media.

But then compare them and see what you come up with.

While you’re at it, read A Terrible Love of War by James Hillman, 2004, Penguin.

Is war, like the market, relentless and uncontrollable? Have we no choice?

We always have a choice.




  1. Thanks so much for another articulate posting. I haven’t seen F911, and the way I see about seeing it (which I will, eventually) is the way I feel before getting a shot at the doctor’s — I’m dreading it, I know it’s going to hurt, but I know it’ll be good for me in the long run!


  2. Sister Rose,

      I am shocked that you can even attempt to support the liberal stance who supports partial birth abortion and the bowing down to terrorism. There are dioceses in the US that will not even allow a person to receive communion if a person vows to vote for Kerry. Anyone can get a clip of Clinton or Kerry eating dinner or playing golf and supporting the killing of innocent babies in what they call women's rights! The movie has so many discrepancies and things taken out of context. I am not saying I support war, but I don't support terrorism and what happened on 9/11. Even the Pope gave Bush his blessings to fight for freedom in Afganistan.

    I pray that our next President is not lax on our fight for freedom as  you and I both will not be allowed the liberty to speak our minds on this website that our soldiers have died so bravely defending.

  3. What really troubles me Sister Rose is that it seems that you accepted all that you saw in this movie as fact and truth. There is so much in this movie, taken out of context and presented as fact when it is just conjecture or even opinion of the director (Moore) who is so anti-conservative (Bush) that he tries to link it all together in a “documentary” and he tries to make you believe that it is true. Mr. Moore is skillful at choosing the attitudes and scenes that continually ride the thin line between truth and fiction so as to sway your feelings and impressions. I have only seen this movie once, but when it is on “video” I am certain that I can find many points delivered as fact when they are merely story. You as a sincere Christian might question some things that Moore presents as truth when it seems obvious to me that he is embellishing a single statement into a false ideal. Does Mr. Moore even believe in a higher power? I have not seen him state one way or another! It seems very possible that Moore is an atheist who has no respect for anyone with conservative or Christian beliefs.

  4. Sister Rose
    I suspect that if someone followed you around for 3 + years that one would find statements and facial expressions that could be presented to show you in the light desired by a director to be non-chirstian, un-caring about noble causes, and petty.  I also suspect that you are basically a good person. I hope that you follow my drift.

  5. Dear Sister Rose,

    I felt compleled to respond to your review of Fahrenheit 9/11 particularily after reading the replys you have received following your review.  I must admit I began reading your review with some trepidation as I was expecting to find the same old conservative rhetoric that has been voiced loud with complete disregard of fact.  I applaud you Sister for not falling into that trap and for providing an honest review of a movie that is meant to open the publics mind to thought and a serious personal pondering of morals, integrity, and true meaning of being an American.

    The core facts in this movie are real.  Mr. Bush was sitting in a classroom listening to stories for at least 7 minutes after learning of a terrorist attack.  Mr. Bush and the Bush family does have business connections with the Bin Laden family.  The war in Iraq has nothing to do with the terrorism perpetrated on our soil on 9/11/2001, other than as an excuse to remove Saddam from power.  The majority of our military is in fact powered by low to middle income men and women.  The pain of the woman who lost her son was REAL.  I invite your readers to research them personally as much of the information presented in this movie is easily found in various news sources and not to be surprised when they find that the facts presented in this movie are only the tip of the iceburg.

    I am proud to call myself an American and a Libral.  I am proud of my husband, our family and our friends service to the United States as members of the miltary.  However, I am no longer proud to call myself a christian if beiing a christian puts me in the same category as our appointed president or any other conservative who refuses to remove their blinders and see what is really going on.

  6. Sister Rose:
    You are correct.  We have a choice.  My choice is to never read your reviews again.  Even the 9/11 commission has found outright lies and propaganda in Moore's movie.  I hope he makes a movie about Saddom being the true victim of the war.  Or maybe about how abortions are good for our country, especially if the kill future conservatives.

  7. Sister Rose,
    As Ronald Reagan would have said:”There you go again!” I am Catholic and a product of way too many years of Catholic education (as I guess you are also).
    In this sense, we would seem to be alike. But the one thing that Catholic education has taught me (that apparently you missed out on) is that you never never let  someone string some disjointed ideas together and take that as truth without the other side being heard.
    Mr. Moore is an admitted rabble rouser who feels no obligation to do anything that any right thinking person would deem as fair. In this sense, that theater you were in is a classic example of “playing to the choir.”
    As that other great thinker of the 80's  Rosanna Rosanna Dana would say:"Sister Rose, you need to get out of California."  One thought for you to ponder if you feel like it. Would be the reception to the movie have been the same in DesMoines, or Birmingham, Alabama, or Binghampton, New York, or even Sacramento, California?

  8. Might have been nice if you had actually reviewed the movie as a movie – writing, cinematography, conitnuity, etc. All I see is a review of the opinions expressed by Moore and by the admittedly pre-biased audience. Does this mean that the film did not qualify as a film worthy of review on its own merits? Perhaps the production costs should then be counted as a contribution to the Democratic Party

  9. I think some folks may be in denial.>>>>

    And I think you are one of them.  How can you state: "Sure, he pulls some slight-of-hand with the editing…..Now is the time for critical thinking, for inquiry. And Moore's work deserves it as much as the mainstream media. " and not following through with your own thought?

    When viewing a so-called "documentary", shopuldn't a media studies 'expert' go  further than a mere review of the film's effect and take some time to check on the "facts" presented, rather than a perfunctory  "If what Moore says is true, is true, …."

    Wouldn't you like to know?  How about just a small amount of checking on the clipped statements designed to give an impression that fits moore's agenda?
    Just one example …

    At the end of F911 Michael Moore quotes Condoleeza Rice as saying, “Oh, indeed there is a tie between Iraq and what happened on 9/11.”

    That was the truncated, Michael Moore version. Now for the full, unexpurgated quote:

    “Oh, indeed there is a tie between Iraq and what happened on 9/11. It’s not that Saddam Hussein was somehow himself and his regime involved in 9/11, but, if you think about what caused 9/11, it is the rise of ideologies of hatred that lead people to drive airplanes into buildings in New York.”

    The one thing that worried me is the situation at the school.   Then I thought  
    “Why not?” We don’t know what else he was told at that point. I can imagine
    the look on my face would be just as confusing to any observer as I weighed concerns about completing a small task with a group of children against what
    I personally could accomplish by getting back to the White House maybe 10 minutes earlier.

    To paraphrase an old adage: “If it seems all too horrible to be true, make sure it is before you accept it.”

  10. You my dear sister, is another reason most "self thinking" Catholics are leaving the church in droves.  Movies indeed!  YOu obviously hadn't done a lick of research on your own.  Why don't you see if buddy Michael can donate some money to bail out your churches from legal problems.  You are as phony as he is.
    You sure WHoopie isn’t under there??

  11. Thank you for all the comments. I would like to share a quote from a friend and colleague who teaches film at UCLA for your further consideration:

    "I don’t see Moore’s film as a documentary; rather I see it more as an old fashioned broadsheet.  It has all the fervor and call to action of Thomas Paine’s COMMON SENSE.  Instead of publishing his political tract on a printing press, Moore has laid out his position in film.  FAHRENHEIT 9/11 is not mean to be objective.  The film is a political polemic, which has a long and venerable place in our country’s history and in the building of our nation’s democracy." Laurie Hutzler

  12. I have not seen this movie, but I am so confused by all of this stuff. We are so manipulated in our thinking by both sides, one dosen’t know what to believe. They call this a free country and yet I am feeling like we are all puppets…manipulated into believing whatever they want us to. Very scary!


  14. I must say I have not seen F 9/11 yet but I am anxiously awaiting the day – if anything to confirm my distaste for Bush. But politics aside and political opinions to myself – I am compelled to comment on Bowling For Columbine.  When I first heard of it my thought was how tacky.  I waited until it was on Showtime and I must confess – it was awesome. It my first time seeing a Michael Moore film although I had heard pro's and con's about him.  And I must disagree with your feelings on Charlton Heston – he turned me off.  You don't hold an NRA conference after somethinglike this and you need to have the gutz to talk to the press.
    At the risk of getting blasted in here – Columbine was horrible and my heart goes out to all the victims' family.  But what gets' me mad is how no one listed Dylan & Klebal (sp???) in the victims category. They were wrong but I do feel sorry for them.  Being a mom of a boy who got teased a few years back I understand where they were coming from.  A person can only take so much.  If any good came out of Columbine it opened up a serious communication between me & my son (now 14)  
    I especially feel sorry for the parents – they lost their sons too. but the guilt they must be feeling about the “where did we go wrong” or “why didn’t we see it” will be with them til the day THEY die and that makes for a miserable life.
    I enjoy your movie critiques – keep up the good work.

  15. The statement on terrorism on the golf course, Bush was not speaking about the present situation. He was talking about the situation of terrorism in Iran.

  16. To the man who began his critisism of the Sister with "You my dear is the reason", may I suggest that before you go about bashing members of the clergy perhaps you should chastise whomever is responsible for your atrocious grammer.  Really, your hateful words to a lady of devotion are evidence enough of your ignorance, you needn't confirm it with such a total lack of clarity and grace in you attemp at expressing yourself.

    On the subject if Moore's film, I'm no Democrat but it is painfully obvious that Bush is a complete moron.  It hardly takes a genius to create a collection of damning soundbites when your dealing with a man who really is border-line retarded.

  17. I saw that clip of Bush and the golf club on TV, can't say I've seen the movie.  The golf clip bothered me, but not how you might expect.  Mr. Bush is just a man like everyone else in this world, he can't possibly be serious and worried and have the weight of every young person's death on his shoulders 24 hours 7 days a week.  We all need relaxation, and of course Bush being political and wealthy finds it on the green.  Even if your best friend died, you couldn't mourn forever, you'd have to go out and do somtheing eventually.  I don't know, Bush has to be a guy just like every other guy sometimes.

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