“Fahrenheit 11/9” is a powerful, messy take on the state of American politics in 2018

"Fahrenheit 11/9" movie poster. Photo Credit: https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcT5b-A1sk-SItR9HnT65m4bH4FLpo6B1l4ZJsaKbUMdXhobA4mdtQ

Matt Ponikvar, Contributing Writer

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“Fahrenheit 11/9,” a documentary by political filmmaker and activist Michael Moore, was released on Sept. 21, 2018. The movie is a spiritual successor to his 2004 documentary “Fahrenheit 9/11,” and it covers Donald Trump’s presidency from a left-wing perspective, as well as the Flint Michigan water crisis.

The documentary starts with covering the days leading up to the 2016 Presidential election, then delves into the brief history of Donald Trump himself, and tries to shine a light on everything wrong with the man himself and his presidency. It does this by montaging news footage at a rapid pace to advance time then will usually cut to Moore himself interviewing an expert on the subject or prominent figures like David Hogg and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.   

Moore tackles the issues of Trump’s Presidency with two simple yet important questions-how did this happen? And how do we get out of it? Make no mistake, Moore doesn’t just criticize Trump and the Right wingers, but everything on the Left wing from Hillary Clinton, the Democratic party and Barack Obama. Basically Moore has had enough with all of mainstream American Politics, and the main purpose of the film seems to be a call for people to rise up and change a broken system.

If you’re familiar with the director’s past films like “Bowling for Columbine” and the aforementioned “Fahrenheit 9/11,” this is the same style of political commentary that Moore has been known for, so in other words he doesn’t stray from his typical formula too much. It cycles between montages of news footage to advance the story, and interviews by Moore, with an overall narration by Moore himself. The biggest problem I run into with his films is that he leaves out details that conflict with his own viewpoint. This is why I’d call the movie more of a political commentary even though it’s technically a documentary.

I’ll start with what “11/9” does right. Moore wants people to get angry about the problems in politics, he wants them to be activists and rise up against what he sees as a corrupt regime. And as always with moore, he can be very convincing in his argument and gets his point across crystal clear by narrating it himself.   

When “Bowling for Columbine” was released, the internet was still in its infancy. The information about gun violence, the NRA and views on gun control were not mainstream by any stretch of the imagination, but now with the rise of social media and connectivity it’s very hard for someone like myself to be surprised by the Trump scandals that “11/9” relays. Maybe that’s just because I pay attention to politics, but so does most of his audience. Political documentaries aren’t exactly mainstream crowd pleasers. With that being said, if you aren’t aware of the issues and controversies with the Trump administration, then “11/9” could be a real eye opener for you.

My biggest problem with “11/9” is the unfocused nature of the film as a whole, Moore tries to connect them to the seemingly unrelated Flint Michigan water crisis. Moore’s past films had a laser focus on their topics, and it worked. When he tries to cover multiple bases like in “11/9,” it didn’t have the same effect. I found myself wanting to know more about what’s going on in Flint. He was telling a much more intimate and personal story than the earlier parts of the film. Moore tackles President Obama’s handling of the situation and interviews government officials, as well as Flint’s residents themselves. Even more interesting is Michael Moore was born and raised in Flint, the topic hits close to home (quite literally) for him, so it’s even more puzzling as to why he didn’t choose to make this the focus of the documentary.

“Fahrenheit 11/9’s” ultimate mission is to inspire change and activism, and while it certainly accomplishes that, as a documentary it’s unfocused and a little too similar to Moore’s past works. It feels too chaotic at times, but in this current political climate, it feels appropriate.    

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