I was never a fan of Documentary films growing up and even now I fail to see the interest in many of these films. However I am interested in Michael Moore’s work. I can’t remember when I first watched this but I do remember being blown away by it. I found it hard to believe that a documentary could make me care so much about something.
First of all I will say I am English and by talking about this film I am not having a go at American culture. I do believe that gun control is an issue but it is not for me to say how other countries should live their lives. I will however say that guns are hard to get hold of in the United Kingdom and there is far less deaths from guns in UK than the USA.
In my first year of university I talked about the use of violence in film and how it affected its audiences. I won’t go into it too much but I will say that humans do have a tendency to be violent but not always react violently when they witness violence. Bowling for Columbine explores some of the levels of violence in culture and Moore identifies that it must be something that Americans only have because there are lots of countries with guns, violent history, poverty, broken homes, violent movies and video games but no other country has gun issues as much as the USA.
The film opens with Moore going into a bank to set up an account and asks to set up the account where he will receive a free gun. He gets a free gun in a bank. How odd. Moore then explores how people have be harmed by just owning guns telling the funny story of a dog accidentally shooting his owner when they were taking a photo with the dog with a rifle on his back.
The film contains some emotional moments including interviews with survivors of the Columbine shooting as well as a montage of CCTV the school with the sound of 911 calls played over it. The montage scene in particular is really emotional and it is hard to imagine the horror that not only the victims witnessed before their deaths but how these teenagers and teachers would have reacted to this event changing their community and either witnessing their friends getting killed or the survivors who still had bullets lodged in their bodies.
Moore goes into the politics of gun control and into capitalism. These are all topics covered in his films and I don’t see why it is so hard to make a change. America is not perfect and Moore is simply pointing out how it could be improved. And people hate him for it. I have met a lot of Americans and most of them are open minded people and they are just so nice. But the American philosophy to life is fucked up. excuse my language. Moore explores this deeply and I understand the issues of representation in film but Moore does speak to both sides.
Charlton Heston features in the film due to his lobbying of the National Rifle Association and an interview at the end shows us that Heston fails to acknowledge that gun control is an issue. Even in the film he is shown doing rallies just after these shooting massacres and seems not to care at all. At the end Heston storms off when Moore shows him a picture of a young girl who was shot dead by a class mate. Moore leaves the photo on Heston’s porch.
In this he even speaks to Matt Stone creator of South Park who grew up in Littleton and attended Columbine high school. In the interview Stone says that the way that kids are taught encourages them that if they fail once that they will be a failure forever, He says he wish someone told the kids who committed the massacre.
An interview with Marilyn Manson is really interesting as well. He talks about how he was blamed for producing aggressive music yet in the interview he talks more sense than any politician. Manson and Moore even talk about how America dropped more bombs in Kosovo on the day of the Columbine shooting. Yet no one blamed the president for influencing violence. Manson says ‘who has more influence?’ he likes to think he does but he opening says that the president does.
Another scene I liked featured a cartoon explaining how America was built on fear and consumerism and that is why they feel the need to own guns. I know the constitution says you have the right to but it is clearly not good for people. Children are dying. Their parents have to mourn the loss of their young children, children who will never grow up and have kids. It does make me sad that this could have been improved.
Moore also meets survivors of the Columbine and goes to K mart head office to return the bullets that are lodged in their bodies. This was a bold move but K mart removed the selling of 9mm ammunition in their stores. It was a small step but I am glad that the victims could get form of justice. They brought all the bullets from a nearby K mart and returned to K mart head office with the press. After this achievement Moore decided to speak to Charlton Heston about the issue. Heston was the poster boy for the NRA and it would get attention having Moore speak to him.
I think Michael Moore is a great film maker and he really talks about taboo subjects but that is a good think. His films may appear one sided to no liberals but he makes films like a research essay. He gathers up primary and secondary evidence, he speaks to people on both sides, He connects them and concludes information from it. It upsets me that the Americans who will not listen are the ones who have the power to change things.
Overall I think Bowling For Columbine is possibly the greatest documentary ever made and I am glad it got recognition at the Oscars but I am annoyed that not much has been done to prevent gun massacres. Ever since the recent shootings in America I really hope that politicians look at this film and learn from it. Not all the answers are in this film but a lot can be learned from watching this film. I think this comes up as a must see documentary film to watch but I would say as a film everyone should see this. If I could encourage just one person to sit through the film and take something from it I would be happy.
Please comment your thoughts below. Thanks for reading.