I went and saw Fahrenheit 9/11 on Friday, in an absolutely packed theater. I have mixed feelings about the movie. Right after it was over, I loved it. Then, after I thought about it, the doubts started creeping in. There are parts of this movie that could convince anyone, no matter how much they love the President, that going into Iraq wasn’t worth it. Unfortunately, there are other parts of the movie – the ones you’ve been hearing about from the right-leaning commentators – that will deflate the impact of the last third of the movie.
The stuff about the Carlyle Group and the Bushes doesn’t really matter in the long run, does it? It’s interesting, and I hope people go track down the source information. But, there wasn’t enough time in the movie to go into all of it. It also doesn’t advance the emotional meat of the movie.
The stuff at the beginning about the 2000 election was great, and done with a real sense of humor that belied the seriousness of the charges leveled. It was a great way to open the movie, even though the section that came after it was a bit uneven.
The last half of the movie was what really affected me. I had posted Thursday about the real price of the war. The numbers blew me away, but seeing the images in the movie just cemented it for me. While many on the Right will have a problem with the happy pictures of Baghdad in March of 2003, those scenes weren’t staged. Yes, Saddam was horrible, and horrible things happened, but the images were of average Iraqis living their average Iraqi lives. The images of the “collateral” damage of the war that came after that were just as real. Those things really happened. Those children were injured, along with thousands of their countrymen. That old woman really lost her family, and really said those things. It wasn’t staged, and the numbers aren’t fake. Someone said to me this morning that the movie fails because it doesn’t mention the “good” things that have happened. You know what, it doesn’t have to. We’ve never seen those images in the U.S. media, and we should. We should see them for the same reason we should see the flag-draped coffins as they arrive at Dover. That’s the real price of war.
The segment on Lila Lipscomb, and the images of the soldiers in Iraq was even more powerful to me (I know, it shouldn’t have been, but I was). The images of the amputees in physical therapy were too much, and watching Mrs. Lipscomb grieve was more than I could handle.
And those are the parts of the movie that everyone should see. I can understand why people don’t want to see the rest of it. It’s inflammatory, and doesn’t tell (or try to) tell the “whole” story. No one’s telling the whole story, so expecting a two hour movie to is silly and overly partisan. Where the movie succeeds, it does so with more power and impact than anything I’ve seen. Where it fails, it fails only because of the voice it’s delivered in and the time given to laying out the evidence. It was an excellent review of the past three years, no matter what lens it was given in. The build up to war, the lies, the half-truths, the chest-thumping declarations… they’re all there.
I think the movie will have an impact on the election, not because it shows Bush as a doofus or evil (I don’t think either is true at this point, which is another post). It will because it shows the true price of war, a price that the media and the Administration have failed to show us in the past year. We should all see what’s being done in our name, under our flag. 60,000 people wounded and killed, never to be the same. And why? For what?
I hope the movie influences people to find the truth, to honestly seek it. Go see it, then go find the truth – not the truth as presented by either side, but the truth as it is. It’s complex, and difficult to find, much less understand. Every target is a spinning top, endlessly spitting out their description of intent and motive, trying to influence how we see what they’ve done and why. I’m done caring about the “why” and the motive. It doesn’t matter. The consequence is more important to me. Seeing the consequence of the President’s action in Iraq is enough for me to cast my vote for Kerry this November.