Fahrenheit 9/11 & Control Room

Fahrenheit 9/11 & Control Room

When Cannes bestowed the Palme d’Or on Fahrenheit 9/11 last May, it wasn’t all that surprising, a political paint bomb lobbed from Europe toward the White House. But the question remained, how would the film play in Peoria? To packed houses, we know now. Fahrenheit opened on 868 screens in June-unheard of for a documentary-then spread to twice that many on the 4th of July weekend, bringing Michael Moore’s brand of political fireworks home to Main Street and symbolically affirming his status as an American patriot.

Fahrenheit 9/11 presents the typical Moore package: the faux-naive questions and good-time banjo music; the fun with American cultural absurdities; the rowdy rock ’n’ roll populism, like REM’s “shiny happy people holding hands” piped in over clips of Bush and Co. glad-handing various Saudi royals. But beneath the mirth works an ice-cold tactician. Fahrenheit 9/11 is not a documentary, it’s a prosecution, charging a dark convergence of interest between the Bush family and the Saudis, including the wealthy bin Laden clan. As a prosecutor Moore works by a kind of evidentiary pointillism, not so much connecting the dots as spraying them into a shadowy outline of complicity. To take one typical charge, he notes that George H. W. Bush serves on the board of the Carlyle Group, an investor consortium whose military interests include United Defense, manufacturer of the Bradley Fighting...

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About the Author

Rand Richards Cooper is Commonweal's contributing editor.