In 2004 Michael Moore’s documentary aimed straight at the George W. Bush administration and the war in Iraq, Fahrenheit 9/11, won him the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and became the highest-grossing documentary of all time. He has made several movies in the meantime, most notably Sicko, but now is back with perhaps his most powerful film since that classic.
In so doing he has simply reversed the numbers to Fahrenheit 11/9, referring to the morning after Donald Trump’s shocking election as president. But as I say in my video review (click the link above to watch), this is not a two-hour Moore attack on the Donald, easy as that might be to imagine considering this filmmaker. Oh sure, there is some of that, particularly in the first half-hour where he wonders how we got to this point and revisits some of the greatest hits of the Trump campaign and, now, presidency. But if you think that is the direction for the rest of the film, thankfully you would be wrong.
There is no question Moore made this film out of a feeling that our democracy is running out of time, but he also has other things on his mind. He spends a considerable part of the movie delving into and dissecting other issues including the water crisis in his hometown of Flint, MI; the high school shooting in Parkland, FL, and the movement students there turned into a national crusade; and a courageous teachers strike in West Virginia. There is a bit of Moore’s old spirit as he travels to Michigan’s state capitol to make a “citizen’s arrest” on Gov. Rick Snyder, who presided over the Flint crisis, but that stunt aside, this is deadly serious stuff as he explores the darker side of Trump-era times we are living in.
Surprisingly he doesn’t spare the Democrats either, particularly in a sequence blasting then-President Obama over a water-drinking “stunt” he did when visiting Flint during the crisis. Moore also goes after the Democratic leadership including Nancy Pelosi in ways you might not expect if you thought this would be limited to two hours of Trump bashing. Basically Moore is attacking the system and calling for change before it is too late. He offers a historical scenario in that regard, comparing the rise of Trump to the rise of Hitler in the Nazi Germany of the ’30s, and it is a pretty effective argument. Chilling too.
Structurally Fahrenheit 11/9 has many paths, but mostly Moore has put this film out just before the midterm elections, which he thinks are crucial to our future, using cinema as a call to action and doing our civic duty to vote. The man behind Roger and Me, Bowling for Columbine, the aforementioned Sicko and 9/11 and more is putting out an blistering message, and it is one that is worth hearing. After all, this is the guy who correctly predicted the election of Trump in the first place. He knows his stuff.
Fahrenheit 11/9 is the first release from Tom Ortenberg’s new company, Briarcliff, and was produced by Carl Deal, Meghan O’Hara and Moore. It opens Friday.
Do you plan to see Fahrenheit 11/9? Let us know what you think.