“You give me enough footage of Michael Moore in enough situations, and I can make him look like an anorexic right-winger.”
Even though this statement, spoken by activist, actor and democrat Ron Silver, is placed almost halfway through “FahrenHYPE 9/11,” it illustrates the central idea of all the film’s 80 minutes: cinematic slicing, dicing and lying can turn a movie into a dangerous weapon of mass deception.
Thanks to titles like “Outfoxed,” “Unconstitutional,” “Going Upriver,” “The Hunting of the President,” and of course, Michael Moore’s record-setting “Fahrenheit 9/11,” political conservatives have been largely unrepresented in the recent explosion of documentary films.
Director Alan Peterson’s “FahrenHYPE 9/11” intends to upset that perceived monopoly.
Through the words of eyewitnesses present in the Florida elementary school classroom now notorious for being host to the president on 9/11, the first several minutes of the film powerfully deconstruct one of the most-publicized scenes in “Fahrenheit 9/11”-the infamous seven minutes in which Moore portrayed President Bush as indecisive and confused.
According to Congressman Peter King, his recording of the event proves it was actually only 5 minutes. This revelation is given amid sound bites of various people’s unmistakable approval of the president’s handling of the situation. The sound is edited smoothly, the visuals flow naturally, and the timing and intensity of the music flawlessly accent the on-screen events.
Following this engaging introduction, “FahrenHYPE” takes a systematic approach to debunking many of the points made by Moore in “Fahrenheit.” Some of the counterpoints are shocking and some just sound like statistical rhetoric, but all of them are portrayed convincingly.
Many scenes are dedicated to people who feel misrepresented in Moore’s film. Included are the soldier who lost his arms (“I feel like I’ve been violated….”), the Oregon state trooper who patrols parts of that state’s coast (“I was disappointed by the conclusion that was reached in the movie….”), and, as an answer to Moore’s dynamic Lila Lipscomb, family members of soldiers who died in Iraq (“One person’s opinion or agenda does not make the truth.”).
In spite of the interesting interviews and the tastefully patriotic conclusion, most of the film does not rise to the cinematic standard set in the first few minutes. So much information is provided without pause, that the power of some of the points is lost in the information overload. For this reason, it is a good thing the documentary is available on DVD. If you are not in a quick-thinking mood, expect to use your remote’s “pause” and “rewind” buttons.
“FahrenHYPE 9/11” may not be this fall’s greatest date movie, nor does it excel in the areas that make Michael Moore’s latest so entertaining, but that’s not really the point. A timely film like this can capture a viewer’s attention even in the moments when humor, irony or charisma are totally lacking. If you have an insatiable appetite for the whole truth in this deceptive political season or you just do not enjoy being misled, then “FahrenHYPE 9/11” is bound to satisfy some of that hunger.