Thursday, July 01, 2004
Did Fahrenheit 9/11 deserve the Cannes Film Festival award? Probably not.
The movie is a great piece of TV style documentary with a certain political agenda. It is made to inform the American public about the mafia who runs the government, and more than that it is made to change their mind about the ones they choose in the next election. In its rhetoric the movie uses the same devices the Right-extremists have used for years to manipulate the public mind. Fahrenheit 9/11 is a great political pamphlet, informing people in great numbers about what is going on in their 'democracy,' but at the same time bringing itself down to the level of the least intelligent TV shows. Is it the weak point for the movie or its stregth?
The fact is that the movie can convince many people not to vote for Bush in the next election, and makes them think about the criminals in power. But at the same time this kind of argument, the kind of over-simplification of the reality (like showing pre-war Iraq as a paradise for happy children and smiling people) that we see in the movie is something that the other side of the battle is expert in it. They can easily use the same technics against the movie.
There are certain beautiful moments in the work, like when Moore reads the Patriotic Act to the members of the Congress using a loudspeaker, while he is driving a Ice-cream truck, or when he asks the Congress members to sign up their children in the Army, but a big part of the movie is playing with viewer's emotions. Listening to a mother who reads the last letter of his son, killed in Iraq, who asks people not to vote for Bush is nothing but propaganda. The son could have written something in favor of Bush, and the crying mother could be shown on Fox. So what is the difference here between these two? When I think about it I don't see that much difference in the 'languge' used in both of these cases. The truth is to be politically effective, one can't do anything but what Micheal Moore does in this move: for a nation so addicted to fast-paced TV programs, simplified reality, and fast food (not only for stomack but for brain as well,) what else can be done to convince the nation not to vote for an idiot?
I call Fahrenheit 9/11 a political 'pamphlet' because despite its claims it still works on the surface, it plays with emotions and cry scenes rather than bringing up important issues such as WMD or the fact that the new wave of American imperialism began when Clinton was in power. It emphasizes on removing certain people from power, instead of talking about the mentality that is behind American foreign policy for decades. It doesn't show the roots of what is going on behind the scene. There are a lot of information on Saudis (which at certain points, in my view, becomes somehow anti-Arab rather than anti-terrorist), but there is no mention of the gang whose policies has brought the world to such a disastrous situation.
The fact that I politically agree with Michael Moore doesn't make his movie a good film, the same way my praise for cinematic beauty of movies such as Triumph of the Will or Battleship Potemkin, or my enjoyment of listening to Israel's national anthem does not make me a pro-Nazi, pro-Communist, or pro-Zionist. I think we need to separate art from its political agenda. The works which are made for attaining certain political goals all have political expiration dates. The question is if they are deep enough and artistically rich enough to survive the oblivion of history, when their political goals are a part of a forgotten past.
Picture: "Fahrenheit 9/11" in Asr-e Jadid (meaning "Modern World") Movie Theater in Tehran. from cappuccino.