Tuesday 22 January 2019

Fahrenheit 11/9 ★★★★☆

There’s a lot of politics going on in the world at the moment, and much of it seems to be centralised in America. Following on from his previous documentary, ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’, in which he investigates the reasons for America becoming involved in Iraq and Afghanistan, Michael Moore now presents us with ‘Fahrenheit 11/9’, an interesting look into the current political situation of America, focusing particularly on Trump’s way into power, the Flint, Michigan, water crisis that’s still ongoing, and the rise in progressiveness within the American youth, following the numbers of school shootings that happen across the country.

Having seen previous documentaries by Moore, I made sure to keep an open mind with this one – if you’ve watched his stuff before then you’ll know that, although he is a great journalist, he’s very subjective in the ways he presents his findings. Much of the focus of this particular documentary is very personal for Moore, having been raised in Flint, and so it’s both emotional and evocative. The situation out there is worse than I thought, with him highlighting the probable long-term damage caused to the residents (including 10,000 children) and not holding back at all in his attack on both Snyder and Obama – Snyder who caused the whole problem in the first place, and Obama who did nothing to rectify it. This particular part was shocking as I didn’t even know about the speech Obama gave to Flint, and it certainly lowered my opinion of him.

Some of the scenes shown were actually quite distressing, in particular, videos taken during school shootings, and content that had been shot during the missile threat false alarm in Hawaii. It’s easy to gain a certain filter for world events like these, and brush them off like any other piece of news, but Moore brings back the realism and the gravity of each situation through thought-provoking filmmaking and sometimes disturbing footage to back up his points. He also uses humour to balance it out, which is done well.

 The problem I had with it was that some of it feels a bit like propaganda in the way it’s filmed – a comparison of Trump and Hitler is explored, accompanied by a Trump speech dubbed onto scenes of Hitler. Although entertaining, it comes across as a bit far-fetched (despite being perfectly valid when you think about it), and scenes insinuating 9/11 as similar to the burning of the Reichstag lost a bit of its credibility for me as it didn’t feel justified or explained like other parts to the documentary.

Despite this though, Moore did a surprisingly good job of attacking both the Republicans and Democrats and even blames for Democrats for the Republicans’ success. It would have been nice to have seen a more balanced view of the current progressiveness rising within the country, which is displayed as a way to save America without looking at any of its flaws (I say this as someone who is much more on the progressive side – I appreciate full balance when I’m watching a documentary on such a topic). I guess that’s what makes a Michael Moore documentary through – the raw passion that they exude certainly does lead to bias, but it all comes from the heart, rather than just analysing statistics. It also ended positively, using grassroots activism to show that maybe it isn’t the end of America – maybe it can be saved after all. 

For anyone interested in global or American politics then this is certainly one to watch – even if you don’t agree with Moore’s views, it’s still an eye-opening and captivating look into one of the largest countries in the world. 

Hannah Read

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