Using a mixture of roving interviews, statistics, historical documentary footage, cartoon animation and the set-ups familiar to fans of his TV Nation series, Moore teases out appalling truths about gun proliferation in America. He's able to obtain a rifle by opening a bank account and shows that the bullets used in the Columbine massacre were still available at KMart--until he confronts their management with victims of the shootings. But it's not just gun proliferation that's the problem. Canada, Moore discovers, is similarly rife with firearms yet has a far lower murder rate. The problem with the US, Moore believes, is an irrational climate of fear that has driven the country to reactionary extremes since the days of the pioneers, persuading citizens that they need to be armed to the teeth.
In a film short on lowlights, the highlight is Moore's confrontation with NRA President Charlton Heston. Moore's deceptively genial, shambling, regular American dude appearance (as well as his NRA membership) wins Heston's confidence and Moore teases from the actor an inadvertently racist slip of the tongue, before turning up the heat, at which point Heston terminates the interview. In this moment, the sort of anger Moore demonstrated at the 2003 Academy Awards ceremony surfaces briefly as he brandishes a picture of a gunshot victim to the retreating Heston. Funny, shrewd, righteous, hard to deny, Bowling for Columbine is uncomfortable and irresistible filmmaking. --David Stubbs
Revered by the little people, feared by the corporates and getting right up Charlton Heston's gun barrel, America's favourite whistle blower Michael Moore has armed himself with his own secret weapon – humour - to create this engaging, entertaining and thought-provoking documentary. Starting point is the harrowing 1999 Columbine High School massacre – in which 13 students were murdered. Before the two fellow students responsible carried out their killing spree, they had gone bowling...
The opening scenes sees Moore, sporting his trademark baseball cap, casually open an account in a US bank which offers 'more bang for your buck!' (those who open an account there receive a free rifle in return). Moore's first question on obtaining his new firearm: 'Um... do you think it's a little dangerous handing out guns in a bank?'.
The documentary goes on to explore America's trigger-happy society – a country in which around 11,000 people die annually as a result of gun violence – throwing up some chilling stories along the way: the murder of a six-year-old girl by a six-year-old boy; Columbine High School survivors still embedded with bullets bought over the counter at K-Mart; and the town of Virgin, Utah, that has passed a law requiring all residents to own guns...
Moore also aims his camera at Charlton Heston in the Oscar-winning actor's high-profile role as president of the NRA (National Rifle Association).... Read more ›
Michael Moore has the guts to stand up to the Republican/Corporate controlled media. Of course he has been villified by such hypocrites as Joe (dead intern found in his office) Scarborough, Ann (liberals should be shot) Coulter, and Lucianne (giving oral pleasure to Nixon) Goldberg, but they cannot refute the facts. Their only defense for Bush and gun nuts is that Michael Moore is "fat" and "ugly" therefore he has no credibility. Honey, if that were true Rush Lardbaugh would have been laughed off the airwaves years ago.
Moore goes to great lengths to expose the fascination with firearms including a bank that hands out free guns for opening a checking account, a look inside Littleton and a rare interview with Charleton (I sold my soul to the NRA) Heston.
The focus is primarily about gun ownership, and some history of gun laws, in the USA. Columbine High School is used as one of the illustrative examples of how and why the current legislation is not a good thing.
Some coverage is provided about the culture surrounding gun ownership, and the culture of fear that seems prevelant in american media over recent years. As a regular viewer of american news services (thank-you digital tv :-), I can attest to the accuracy of this coverage in comparison to that provided in europe. Michael Moore provides his own comparison - to media coverage of events in Canada. Also, some interesting insights from Marilyn Manson (who rose considerably in my estimation), which seem especially relevant as we sit on the cusp of Gulf War 2.
Something which was clear to me from Moore's attempts to speak to someone senior in K-Mart, was that without making a fuss, and turning up without an attending media circus, no-one seemed particularly interested in listening to him and the students he was with. It seemed that only when revenue was potentially affected by bad press, was anyone prepared to take any form of action at all.
The closing interview with Charlton Heston, and indeed some of his actions as president of the NRA, leaves one wondering how people of this ilk can sleep at night. Perhaps it's the loaded weapon under the pillow that does it for them, which I find as disturbing as some of the other images presented liberally throughout the documentary.
I speculate that there are those in the USA who will not take well to this.... Read more ›