We need people like Michael Moore. Comedian, journalist, director, bestselling author and once the youngest person in US history to hold public office, Moore is funny, articulate and always questing for The Truth.
In 1989's Roger&Me he dealt with a very specific issue: General Motors' decision to "downsize" in Moore's hometown of Flint, Michigan. In his next documovie, The Big One, he expanded his remit to include all big business. With Bowling For Columbine, Moore explores an even broader topic.
He begins with the Columbine massacre, in which two estranged teens embarked on a killing spree in their Colorado high school. Movies and rock music (especially Marilyn Manson) were blamed, but Moore points out that, as the kids went bowling before they embarked on their massacre, we might just as well blame that. So what, he asks, really caused Columbine? Or rather: why does America have such a violent society?
US foreign policy, its racist history and its gun law are all explored. Moore interviews Marilyn Manson, Oklahoma bomber Terry Nichols' brother and, in the movie's highlight, National Rifle Association president Charlton Heston.
Through all this, Moore strikes a balance between comedy and horror. One minute we're laughing at his cartoon history of the US, the next we're watching gut-freezing CCTV footage. Yet it never jars. If Bowling For Columbine can be faulted for anything, it should be for its occasional loss of focus as Moore goes off on a tangent.
But, despite this flaw, Bowling is a 12-course feast for thought. Listen to Moore for just a few minutes and you can't help but get fired up - whether to support his opinion or condemn it. He is apathy's nemesis.
An alternately amusing and chilling dissection of modern America by the States' premier documentary maker. And a timely reminder that the thing we have to fear most is fear itself.
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