Fahrenheit 9/11

Template:Infobox Movie Fahrenheit 9/11 is a high-grossing, award-winning documentary film by American filmmaker Michael Moore, which had a general release in the United States and Canada on June 25, 2004. The film has since been released in 42 more countries and holds the record for highest box office receipts by a general release documentary.

The film generated a great deal of controversy. It presents a critical look at the administration of George W. Bush and the War on Terrorism. The Los Angeles Times described the film as "an alternate history of the last four years on the U.S. political scene." [1] (http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/latestnews/index.php?id=14) The documentary has another theme of criticizing the American corporate media for being cheerleaders for the war in Iraq, and not providing an accurate and objective analysis of what led to the Iraq invasion and the resulting civilian casualties there.

The film has been denounced by some conservatives as misleading propaganda, and praised by other observers as a valuable perspective on the Bush administration's response to 9/11 that the American media have not broadcast. Moore himself has called it an "op-ed piece" while vehemently defending its factual accuracy. [2] (http://abcnews.go.com/wire/Entertainment/ap20040621_1510.html)[3] (http://www.cnn.com/2004/SHOWBIZ/Movies/06/25/moore.film/index.html#1)[4] (http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2004/s1140895.htm). The film debuted at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival in the documentary film category and was awarded the Palme d'Or (Golden Palm), the festival's highest award, by an international jury (four Americans, four Europeans, and one Asian).

As of January, 2005, the film has grossed nearly US$120 million in U.S. box office, and over US$220 million worldwide; an unprecedented amount for a political documentary; Sony reported first-day DVD sales of two million copies, again a new record for the film genre. [5] (http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=politicsNews&storyID=6457112) The film has grossed a further $99 million overseas.[6] (http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=fahrenheit911.htm)

To attack Moore financially, the anti-Moore site moorewatch.com posted a link to a BitTorrent file containing a version of the movie taped at a cinema. (http://moorewatch.com/index.php/steal_this_movie/) The distributors expressed unhappiness and suggested potential legal action, but according to the Sunday Herald (http://www.sundayherald.com/43167), the director himself was reported as stating "I don't have a problem with people downloading the movie and sharing it with people as long as they're not trying to make a profit off my labour".



The film discusses the causes and aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, with the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and with the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq. In the film, Moore also describes the links between the Bush family and associated persons, such as prominent Saudi Arabian families, including the Saudi royal family, and including the family of Osama bin Laden. The links form a relationship spanning three decades, supposedly worth $1.4 billion to the Bush family and their friends and associates. [7] (http://www.nypost.com/postopinion/opedcolumnists/23542.htm)

According to the film, though these business links are not disputed, they are not widely known, and Moore has previously alleged that the Bush administration turned a blind eye to Saudi links to terrorist groups, (most of the September 11 hijackers were Saudis). In this vein, he also examines the government-sponsored evacuation of relatives of Osama bin Laden after the attacks. One of his primary sources for these claims is the book House of Bush, House of Saud by Craig Unger, which Moore also advertises on his website.

The film contains numerous clips of graphic footage of military and civilian casualties from the Iraq war, including dead and mutilated bodies, as well as footage of American soldiers deployed to Iraq who use music as a "Soundtrack to War". Another portion of the film shows US soldiers with amputations and nerve damage. One brief clip shows a public beheading filmed in Jidda, Saudi Arabia. By contrast, Moore refrained from using the familiar footage of the September 11 attacks, but instead had a blank screen with only the sounds of the incident, then cutting to the reaction of onlookers of the attacks.

In April 2004, Moore posted a note on his web site regarding the progress of the film. In it, he stated that he was obtaining footage directly from Iraq:

I currently have two cameramen/reporters doing work for me in Iraq for my movie (unbeknownst to the Army). They are talking to soldiers and gathering the true sentiment about what is really going on. They Fed Ex the footage back to me each week. [8] (http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/message/index.php?messageDate=2004-04-14)

The film begins with George W. Bush's ascension to power and alleges a 42 percent vacation rate before September 11, 2001. The figure comes from a Washington Post article that concludes Bush spent "a whopping 54 days at his Texas ranch, 38 days at the presidential retreat at Camp David and four more at his parents' place in Kennebunkport, Maine." Critics dispute this figure as misleading, remarking that it includes visits by foreign dignitaries as vacation time. [9] (http://billstclair.com/911timeline/2001/wpost080701.html)

The next scene is of Bush sitting in a Florida classroom, holding a book called Reading Mastery 2, for seven minutes after being told there was a second airplane crash into the World Trade Center.

Missing image
Bush holding Reading Mastery 2 on the morning of September 11, 2001.

Moore shows a Vietnam war-era document of George W. Bush's Air National Guard service record — first the censored copy produced by the White House, then an uncensored copy that Moore had obtained a few years earlier. The difference between the versions is that the White House blacked out the name of James R. Bath, a Guard friend of Bush's who went on to work as a financial agent for the Saudis and alledgedly helped channel Saudi money to one of Bush's businesses. (The point has been raised that this may have been due to HIPAA restrictions on the release of medical data. Because Bath, like Bush, did not fulfill his obligation to take the examination, however, the document contained no examination results.) Moore contends that Bush's dry-hole oil well attempts were partially funded by the Saudis and, in fact, by bin Laden family money.

The documentary touches on other themes as well, discussing reduced recruitment number of people enlisting in the military because of the war, and US military recruiters using some questionable pledges to get new sign-ups; particularly targeting poorer neighborhoods. It also shows a business convention where numerous corporate representatives attend and hear a pitch about how much money companies can make through the conflict in Iraq.

Moore obtained footage of the preparation for the televised announcement of the Iraq war, where Bush mugs for the camera, seconds before uttering "My fellow Americans,...".

A strong war supporter, Lila Lipscomb, from Moore's home town, Flint, Michigan with a daughter in the First Gulf War, and a son in Iraq, appears anguished and questions the war's purpose upon the death of her son on April 2, 2003, in Karbala. Lipscomb later travels to Washington, DC where she confronts a woman near the White House who says that "this is all staged." Lipscomb asks her if her son's death was staged also.

As in Moore's other movies, he attempts humor to enliven his argument. Upon learning that most members of Congress had not read the USA Patriot Act before passing it, Moore drives around the Capitol in an ice cream truck, reading the statute over the loudspeaker. He also comments that only one Congressman has children serving in Iraq. He targets Congressmen on the sidewalk to give them United States armed forces pamphlets and urges them to have their children enlist.

Near the end, tying together several themes and points, Moore compliments those serving in the US military, "I've always been amazed that the very people forced to live in the worst parts of town, go to the worst schools, and who have it the hardest, are always the first to step up, to defend that very system. They serve so that we don't have to. They offer to give up their lives so that we can be free. It is remarkable - their gift to us. And all they ask for in return, is that we never send them into harm's way unless it's absolutely necessary. Will they ever trust us again?" However, earlier in the film, he asserts that the large proportion of working-class people in the military can be mainly attributed to a lack of other career options.

In the beginning of the documentary, Moore focuses on the 2000 election with footage of a hypothetical Gore victory and in the process states his opinion that the public was fooled. The film ends with a clip of George W. Bush stumbling through the saying: "There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, it's probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. You fool me you can't get fooled again." He was presumably trying to say, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." What he came up with combined part of that maxim with the title of The Who song "Won't Get Fooled Again." In the context of the film, Moore is tying the clip back to the beginning of the film to imply Moore's hope that the American public would not be "fooled again."

The movie is dedicated to Moore's friend who was killed in the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001, and to those servicemen and women from Flint, Michigan, who have been killed in Iraq.

At the Cannes Film Festival

Movie poster for Fahrenheit 9/11.
Movie poster for Fahrenheit 9/11.

In April 2004 the film was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or at the 57th Cannes Film Festival. After its first showing in Cannes in May of 2004, the film received a 20-minute standing ovation, which Cannes artistic director Thierry Frémaux declared "the longest standing ovation in the history of the festival." (According to French news the standing ovation was over 23 minutes long).

On May 22, 2004, the film was awarded the Palme d'Or. It was the first documentary to win that award since Jacques Cousteau and Louis Malle's The Silent World in 1956. Just like his much publicized Oscar acceptance speech, Moore's speech in Cannes included some opinionated statements:

I can't begin to express my appreciation and my gratitude to the jury, the Festival, to Gilles Jacob, Thierry Frémaux, Bob and Harvey at Miramax, to all of the crew who worked on the film. [...] I have a sneaking suspicion that what you have done here and the response from everyone at the festival, you will assure that the American people will see this film. I can't thank you enough for that. You've put a huge light on this and many people want the truth and many want to put it in the closet, just walk away. There was a great Republican president who once said, if you just give the people the truth, the Republicans, the Americans will be saved. [...] I dedicate this Palme d'Or to my daughter, to the children of Americans and to Iraq and to all those in the world who suffer from our actions.

Some conservatives in the United States, such as Jon Alvarez of Patriotic Americans Boycotting Anti-American Hollywood (PABAAH), commented [10] (http://www.chronwatch.com/content/contentDisplay.asp?aid=7563) that such an award could be expected from "the French" (see Anti-Americanism, Anti-French sentiment in the United States); Moore responded: "There was only one French citizen on the jury. Four out of nine were American. [...] This is not a French award, it was given by an international jury dominated by Americans."

He also responded to claims that the award was political: "Quentin [Tarantino] whispered in my ear, 'we want you to know that it was not the politics of your film that won you this award. We are not here to give a political award. Some of us have no politics. We awarded the art of cinema, that is what won you this award and we wanted you to know that as a fellow filmmaker.'"

In comments to the prize winning jury in 2005, however, Cannes director Gilles Jacob told the jury to make their decision based on film-making rather than politics - a clear reference to Fahrenheit 9/11. He also said that despite the fact that Moore's talent was "not in doubt" he had won the award, "for political rather than cinematographic reasons, no matter what the jury said." [11] (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/05/12/wcann12.xml)

Film release and box office

On its opening weekend of June 25June 27, this film generated a box office revenue of $23.9 million in the U.S. and Canada, the top grossing film of that weekend, despite having been screened in only 868 theaters (many of the weekend's other top movies played on over 2,500 screens). In that weekend it earned more than any other feature-length documentary (including Moore's previous film, Bowling for Columbine) did in its entire U.S. theatrical run. The film was released in France on July 7, 2004 and in the UK on July 9, 2004.

During the weekend of July 24, 2004, the film passed the $100 million mark in box office receipts, again an unprecedented amount for a feature length political documentary.

Moore credited in part the efforts of conservative groups to convince theaters to not run the film, conjecturing that these efforts backfired by creating publicity. There were also efforts by liberal groups such as MoveOn.org to encourage attendance in order to defy their political opponents' contrary efforts.

Partly because of this success, it was widely debated what effect this film would have on George W. Bush's chances of re-election. Despite Moore's energetic campaign in favor of Democratic challenger John Kerry, Bush was re-elected to a second term on November 2, 2004 albeit with a narrower margin of votes than any seating president. Nonetheless, Bush's critics hoped that the success of the film was an indication of wide public support for more open debate on the Bush administration's policies. Furthermore, it was hoped that it would give heart to people who disagreed with Bush's policies, but felt isolated by peer pressure claiming no one agreed with them.

On November 12, 2004, Moore announced his intention to produce a sequel to the film, to be entitled Fahrenheit 9/11 1/2. In an interview with Daily Variety, he stated, "We want to get cameras rolling now and have it ready in two, three years. We want to document it. Fifty-one percent of the American people lacked information [in this election] and we want to educate and enlighten them. They weren't told the truth. We're communicators and it's up to us to start doing it now. The official mourning period is over today and there is a silver lining - George W. Bush is prohibited by law from running [for presidency] again."

Other countries

The film was a major success in most European countries.

The film has been banned in Kuwait. In Lebanon, some student members of the group Hezbollah have asked if there was any way they could support the film. Gianluca Chacra, the managing director of Front Row Entertainment, the Middle East distributor for Fahrenheit 9/11, has stated, “We can't go against these organizations, as they could strongly boycott the film in Lebanon and Syria. Having the support of such an entity in Lebanon is quite significant for that market and not at all controversial. I think it's quite natural."

In Cuba bootlegged versions of the movie were shown at 120 theaters, later followed by a prime-time television showing by the leading state-run network. It had been widely reported that this might affect its Oscar eligibility. However, soon after that story had been published, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences issued a statement denying this, saying, "If it was pirated or stolen or unauthorized we would not blame the producer or distributor for that." [12] (http://www.eonline.com/News/Items/0,1,14644,00.html) In addition, Wild Bunch, the film's overseas distributor for Cuba, issued a statement denying a television deal had been struck with Cuban Television.

That issue is moot, anyway, since Moore decided consciously to forgo Oscar eligibility in favor of a DVD release of the film -- reportedly because he felt that it was more important to spread his message as widely as possible amongst American voters than to win another award.

DVD release

Fahrenheit 9/11 was released to DVD and VHS on October 5, 2004, an unusually short turnaround time after theatrical release. Moore stated that he wanted to release the movie for home viewing prior to the 2004 U.S. presidential election, in order to maximize its political impact.

In the first days of the release, the documentary broke records for the best sold documentary ever. About 2 million copies were sold on the first day. [13] (http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=entertainmentNews&storyID=6433900)

A companion book, The Official Fahrenheit 9/11 Reader, was released at the same time. It contains Moore's sources for his allegations, audience e-mails about the film, film reviews, articles and political cartoons pertaining to the film.

As a response to the film, two competing or "alternative" documentaries were released on DVD on the same day as Fahrenheit 9/11. Entitled George Bush: Faith in the White House and FahrenHYPE 9/11, these documentaries offered an alternative to Moore's perspective. One defended the President and emphasized his religious convictions, while the second was intended as an exposé of Moore himself.

Citizens United has produced a film similar to Fahrenhype, Celsius 41.11. The film's title can be converted to roughly 106 degrees fahrenheit, "the temperature at which the brain begins to die."

Post-release award competition

On September 6, 2004, Moore announced that, because he was seeking a television airing of Fahrenheit 9/11 prior to the November presidential election, the film would not be submitted for consideration for a Best Documentary Oscar (a television broadcast within nine months of the release would disqualify the film in the documentary category under Oscar rules). Moore instead planned to submit and promote his film for the Best Picture Oscar, but noted: "For me the real Oscar would be Bush's defeat on Nov. 2." Moore already holds a Best Documentary Oscar for his film Bowling for Columbine and noted that in the current situation, the above priorities take precedence to winning a second Oscar and as such, he would prefer his compatriot documentarians have a fair chance to win the Oscar themselves. Subsequent to all this, the film ended up receiving no Oscar nominations when they were announced on January 25, 2005.

However, the film won other awards such as the People's Choice Award for Favourite Motion Picture, an unprecedented honor for a documentary.

Initial television presentations

The two-hour film was planned to be shown as part of the three-hour "The Michael Moore Pre-Election Special" on iN DEMAND, but iN DEMAND backed out in mid-October for "legitimate business and legal concerns." In a statement Michael Moore said he believes iN DEMAND decided not to air the film because of pressure from "top Republican people". Moore later on arranged for simultaneous broadcasts on November 1st at 8:00 PM (EST) on DISH Network, TVN and the Cinema Now website.

The movie was also shown on basic cable television in Germany and Austria on November 1, 2004 and November 2, 2004. This is especially curious at it has neither been released on DVD officially in Germany yet, nor was it shown on premium channels.

In the UK, the film was shown on Channel 4 on January 27th, 2005.

See also

External links


da:Fahrenheit 9/11 de:Fahrenheit 9/11 es:Fahrenheit 9/11 fr:Fahrenheit 9/11 it:Fahrenheit 9/11 nl:Fahrenheit 9/11 ja:華氏911 pl:Fahrenheit 9.11 fi:Fahrenheit 9/11 sv:Fahrenheit 9/11


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