Bowling for Columbine (2002)

Bowling for Columbine (2002)

One of the most important documentaries about America and its fear-instilling political logic

The Very Best

8.6

Movie

Canada, Germany
English
Documentary, Drama
2002
MICHAEL MOORE
Adolf Hitler, Bill Clinton, Charlton Heston
120 min

TLDR

No one vivisects the shortcomings of America better than Michael Moore.

What it's about

Acclaimed documentary filmmaker Michael Moore scrutinizes his home country's gun culture in the aftermath of the Columbine High School massacre.

The take

Bowling For Columbine addresses the sore wounds of 9/11 by exploring the concepts of safety and fear as perceived by various people. From school shooting survivors, through Canadians who never lock their doors, to Marilyn Manson and actor/NRA president Charlton Heston, Michael Moore's interviewees all inform the complex picture of gun violence and its rise today. The director is not afraid to provoke and ask the pressing questions linking the abstract fear of the other to the reality of lost lives every day. Even his irony and parody—a morose cartoon arguably based on South Park especially—bites back hard.

What stands out

We're not going to beat around the bush: the film won Best Documentary Oscar and the stamp of approval that goes with it. With impressive political literacy and minimal means, Moore tackles not only concrete events, but also the bigger picture. Perhaps the best examples of such depth and efficiency are to be found in the several montages puncturing the narration, all set to popular songs. "Happiness is a Warm Gun" by The Beatles accompanies a well-orchestrated sequence where title cards present a chronology of US foreign politics up until 9/11 as context for a culture operating on fear and responding with armed measures—a macro-image of gun violence in everyday life.

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