Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Open Democracy : Michael Moore, artist and patriot

A sloppy, cynical piece of propaganda? No, says John Berger: Michael Moore’s documentary film Fahrenheit 9/11 is a historical landmark inspired by hope – and its maker is a true artist deeply committed to his country.

Fahrenheit 9/11 is astounding. Not so much as a film – although it is a cunning and moving film – but as an event. Many commentators try to dismiss the event and disparage the film. We will see why later.

Michael Moore’s film profoundly moved the artists on the Cannes Film Festival jury and it seems that they voted unanimously to award it the Palme d’Or. Since then it has touched many millions of people. During the first six weeks of its showing in the United States, the box office takings amounted to over $100 million; this sum is, astoundingly, about half of what Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone made during a comparable period.

People have never seen another film like Fahrenheit 9/11. Only the so-called opinion-makers in the press and media appear to have been put out by it.

The film, considered as a political act, may be a historical landmark. Yet to have a sense of this, a certain perspective for the future is required. Living only close-up to the latest news, as most opinion-makers do, reduces one’s perspectives: everything is a hassle, no more. The film by contrast believes it may be making a very small contribution towards the changing of world history. It is a work inspired by hope.

What makes it an event is the fact that it is an effective and independent intervention into immediate world politics. Today it is rare for an artist (Moore is one) to succeed in making such an intervention, and in interrupting the prepared, prevaricating statements of politicians. Its immediate aim is to make it less likely that President Bush will be re-elected in November. From start to finish it invites a political and social argument.

(click on the title for the whole article)

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