Why do 11,000 people die in America each year at the hands of gun violence? Talking heads yelling from every TV camera blame everything from Satan to video games. But are we that much different from many other countries? What sets us apart? How have we become both the master and victim of such enormous amounts of violence? This is not a film about gun control. It is a film about the fearful heart and soul of the United States, and the 280 million Americans lucky enough to have the right to a constitutionally protected Uzi. From a look at the Columbine High School security camera tapes to the home of Oscar-winning NRA President Charlton Heston, from a young man who makes homemade napalm with The Anarchist's Cookbook to the murder of a six-year-old girl by another six-year-old, Bowling for Columbine is a journey through America, through our past, hoping to discover why our pursuit of happiness is so riddled with violence.
|Title||:||Bowling for Columbine|
|Release Date||:||October 9, 2002|
|Production Co.||:||Alliance Atlantis Communications, TiMe Film- und TV-Produktions GmbH, Vif Babelsberger Filmproduktion GmbH & Co. Zweite KG, Dog Eat Dog Films, Iconolatry Productions Inc., Salter Street Films International, United Broadcasting Inc.|
|Production Countries||:||United States of America|
|Casts||:||Michael Moore, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, Dick Clark, Charlton Heston, Salvador Allende, Jacobo Arbenz, Mike Bradley, Arthur A. Busch, Michael Caldwell, Richard Castaldo, Bill Clinton, Steve Davis, Ngo Dinh Diem, Mike Epstein, Joe Farmer, Matt Stone, Brooks Brown, Dick Herlan, Marilyn Manson, Chris Rock|
|Plot Keywords||:||usa, canada, gun, homicide, to shoot dead, checks and balances, columbine, oklahoma city bombing, gun violence, person running amok|
Bowling for Columbine Reviews
- overall, he makes a fair pointby 13 February 2004on
236 out of 325 people found the following review useful:
Whatever you may throw at Michael Moore's methods, there are some points made in the film that are valid.
FACT: The United States has a gun-related homicide rate that is totally disproportionate to its population when compared to every other country in the world.
By the end of the film, however, Mr. Moore has already discounted the ownership of guns as a cause, and the blame lies firmly at the feet of the selective and sensationalist media.
By far the most insightful comments in the film are made by Marilyn Manson - namely that there are certain businesses and politicians in the United States that capitalise on on fear.
I don't see this as an anti-gun film, but more an observation of a country that is so completely gripped by fear, that it is spiraling downwards into deep and dangerous paranoia. That this fear is driven by certain forces for profit is sickening and it needs to be uncovered.
When I see so-called 'gun nuts' or apparent racists being interviewed, I feel nothing but pity for them. Their views have been formed by nothing less than the media saturation they are exposed to on a daily basis.
I guess these things are far more apparent to those of us who live outside the USA and witness the continual aggressive acts it perpetrates upon countries that are far too small and weak to defend themselves.
Watch this America, then "South Park, the Movie" and after that take a good long look in the mirror.
- A guerrilla for non violenceby 14 December 2002on
166 out of 239 people found the following review useful:
`Bowling for Columbine,' is a very thought provoking film.
Perhaps the first thought it provokes in any US resident is that the most sensible thing he or she could possibly do is move forthwith to Canada. It's nearby, they speak English almost indistinguishable from standard American, it feels `lighter over there,' you get government health care, there are plenty of guns but very little killing, and you don't even have to lock your doors.
The fundamental question `Bowling for Columbine' asks is: What's responsible for the exceptionally high level of killing in America? Not a lot of guns, Moore points out, because other countries have that. Not a violent history, because other countries have that. Not a love of violent movies, video games, and so forth, because other countries love all that too. Not poverty, unemployment, and ethnic diversity, because lots of countries have more poverty and Canada has as much ethnic diversity and more unemployment. Two things, according to Moore, are primary causes: the US media, which, as he shows, fans up fear constantly among the American populace; and the government in Washington, which solves everything by bombing people somewhere. There's a third thing that emerges more subtly: a gun culture, which leads to the absurd notion of self-defense, perpetuating the violence and the fear and the racism. In this the leading force is that powerful lobby, the National Rifle Association. The result of this lethal combination delineated by Moore, particularly since 9/11, is that Americans aren't very happy people: they live in a constant state of rage, perturbation, and fear, when they're not disolved in tears for the dead who're falling in the houses and streets and schools of the country on a daily basis.
`Bowling for Columbine' isn't ultimately very cheery or uplifting stuff. True, it has lots of laughs, but most of them are ironic - a little sick-making, when you think about it -- and at American expense. Those of us who live in the USA and don't actually regard moving to Canada (or somewhere else) as a real option, aren't walking out of this polemical documentary feeling any too cheerful. One may quarrel with Moore's style, though it seems questionable that so many reviewers have expressed disapproval of his personal appearance (what's sloppy dressing got to do with it?). One can hardly quarrel with most of Moore's basic facts or the urgency of his subject or his commitment to it. Because of its significance to Americans on both personal and national levels, "Bowling for Columbine" has to be considered the most important (and it's becoming the most watched) US documentary film in many a year. This is being recognized in all sorts of ways, first of all with the special jury prize at Cannes. We shall see what the Academy has to say.
It's impressive that Moore and two young men seriously injured at Columbine were able by their confrontations to shame Wal-Mart into taking handguns and ammunition out of their stores - and Moore appears to have been surprised and impressed by this result himself.
Moore has seemed crude and simplistic and confrontational in the past. His methods have not radically changed, but they've modulated into something subtler and less self-serving, such that he has an ability to talk more easily with potential adversaries -- bank employees giving out rifles with new accounts; Michigan militiamen; even Charlton Heston, the haughty President of the National Rifle Association, who invites Moore into his house to film a conversation. True, Heston ends up walking out of the room after a while, but he doesn't have Moore thrown out. Nor does Wal-Mart. This is significant. One is tempted to call Moore's methods (as he wields them today) not crude and simplistic and confrontational, but direct, simple, and honest. There's something unimposing and Middle American about his overweight slouch and scruffy baseball cap crowned head. If he lives in a house worth close to $2 million in New York now, you can't tell it from looking at him, and that consciously maintained persona, if we choose to see it thus, aids him in moving through Littleton, Colorado and Windsor, Ontario, and the other places where he got the footage for this devastating, yet simple film. For credibility among US gun-toters like Heston, Moore has an ace in the hole: he's an expert marksman and a lifetime member of the NRA.
Heston walks out because he hasn't good answers; in fact he really hasn't any answers at all. His explanations for why the USA is so violent are ones Moore has already discounted, and he can't justify his brazenly fronting for the National Rifle Association in Colorado and Michigan right after the child murders by children in those two states. Marilyn Manson (the artist accused of complicity at Columbine because the young killers liked his music) in contrast has not only good answers, but also the greatest zinger in the film. When asked what he would have said to the youth at Columbine after the murders, he says: `Not a word. I'd have listened to them. That's what nobody has been doing.' In between telling interviews, Moore has various ways of documenting contexts: an animation, recited statistics with images, and astonishing film clips like the Fifties one of cops admiring how realistic some kids' toy guns are, and the one from a metal-detector company pushing for dress codes in schools, showing a boy with baggy pants unloading a whole arsenal. What's laughable are all such solutions that don't even begin to get at the problem - that are just profiteering from chaos and insecurity.
It's encouraging that so many people are seeing and commenting on this movie. When it was over, I wished the lights would go up and there'd be a discussion group held right there in the auditorium. There was a lot to talk about. Not everything was by any means clear, nor were all the facts to be bought without question. But in one way or another, `Bowling for Columbine' brings up all the most central issues in America today. Michael Moore makes you laugh and cry; but most important, he makes you think.
- A movie that should be mandatory for all politiciansby 16 March 2004on
151 out of 233 people found the following review useful:
Yes Mr. Moore may lean left, and yes he may not be the most objective documentarian.
However the facts stand: America has many, many more deaths attributed to guns than any other nation. It's a sad truth.
Unfortunately Mr. Moore has been vilified for asking why. And typical of the "head-stuck-in- the-sand" mentality of the far right, they are angry for his work, not at the facts.
This movie is well done and if you're left, right, in-between, gun nut, or responsible gun owner it is definitely worth viewing.
I suspect most of the negative comments posted about this movie at IMDB and similar sites are by people who haven't seen the movie. They're just angry at what they perceive the movie to be.
It isn't a movie about gun control. It's a movie that merely ask why so many deaths.
- Fascinatingby 21 October 2002on
92 out of 151 people found the following review useful:
Documentary by Michael Moore about the NRA and America's fascination with guns. Much of the footage deals with Columbine and the case in which a 6 year old boy shot to death a 6 year old girl. It all culminates in an interview with the head of the NRA Charlton Heston.
Riveting, chilling, hilarious and absolutely incredible movie despite what your views are on the gun issue. Moore's views are definetely anti-gun but he does try to show the opposite side also. Moore questions why there are so many killings in America by guns and almost none in other countries. He gives no real answers to this question but he raises a lot of interesting points and theories. I walked out of the theatre very shaken but, in a way, exhilirated. This is truly a great documentary.
I'm not going to review this fully--it's a movie you should see for yourself. A definite must-see.
- A liberal's critiqueby 2 August 2004on
119 out of 213 people found the following review useful:
This movie was entertaining and interesting, but in certain ways it left me wanting. Michael Moore himself is somewhat irritating, and I found myself wishing he kept more to the background than he does. At the same time, the conclusions that he draws are compelling and pragmatic. This movie was not designed to be an argument. It was not designed to sway the viewer. It was designed to fuel the fire of the already convinced. Though I think that this is Moore's intent (concluded from interviews I've read), I feel that goal could be reached at the same time as convincing a few fence-sitters, and that would have made the film more powerful.
I have two main complaints regarding this movie:
First, I felt that Michael Moore sometimes crossed lines in his interviews that in no way seemed to further his cause or drive his point home. He interviews people as though looking for his answer, not their answer, and particularly seemed to be trying to strike a blow at the conservative masses. I thought this distracted the genuinity and plausibility of the conclusions that he drew. It must be said that the conclusions that Moore drew are of a nature that strikes at conservative politics. However, I felt that the facts he represented spoke for themselves, and that the blows should not have been dealt to conservative interviewees by asking questions designed to get emotional responses out of them.
Second, I found some of the statistics needed to be qualified with per capitas or percentages. When comparing the United States to England, for instance, it is important to take population differences and density into consideration. Straight statistics do not apply. I think the statistics were somewhat skewed by this oversight, however according to some rough guesstimates I made, it wouldn't have diminished Moore's point, only made it less dramatic (which would, indeed, have strengthened his case).
These two complaints hint at an even larger problem, however, and that is this: Because Moore presents his case in this way, he can never hope to have his message truly heard by anyone who isn't already on his side.
- The key to understanding the american dream (or nightmare?)by 30 May 2003on
50 out of 83 people found the following review useful:
This movie makes me feel that it is the first time i just remotely understand the American society. Michael Moore explores the darkest side of America - the society built on fear. Fear of terrorists, fear of the coloureds fear of your neighbor. It appears that americans have lost perspective, not noticing the real dangers of life: pollution, traffic, e.t.c. With TV-channels telling stories only about violence and terrorism and populistic politicians scaring people to vote for them Americans trust only in themselves.
Michael Moore tries with this movie to make the Americans consider and think for themselves being rationals, and to tell the rest of the world how the American society works. Really something to think about... See it, its necessary
- Major funding from Canada?by 27 July 2004on
52 out of 88 people found the following review useful:
I watched this for the first time and pretty much like it. But something kept nagging at me. I am a pretty liberal person and believe in Gun control but I really have always liked Charlton Heston and couldn't believe he was as bad as he's portrayed here. So I did a little research and found out that his speech was so horribly butchered by Moore that he totally changed the meaning Heston was going for. Also Moore inserted a shot of Heston waving a gun over his head that was taped at a NRA function a year later in some other location and then cut in so it looked like it was part of his speech in Denver after the Columbine shooting. Moore never mentions that the meeting was planned way before the Columbine shooting and couldn't be canceled realistically in that short period of time.
Other things found out. The Footage of the Dog with the gun is faked. The bank at the beginning mailed the guns to customers from a warehouse 400 miles away. They didn't hand them out in the bank the way its portrayed and the guns in the bank were models. The Foreign death statistics don't take into account police shootings(the US figures do) and they are not adjusted for the differences in population and a few of them he took the lowest death toll in a given period instead of an average???
The scene with Dick Clark was another one that I just couldn't believe. Is he really that rotten? Turns out the the six year old's mother had lost custody of all her kids and was a convicted drug dealer. She had three children all from different father's and her son was not in her custody and living with a drug dealing uncle in a crack house with guns and Knives all over the place. Moore conveniently leaves all this out and tries to make Dick Clark the bad guy for employing the kids mother at minimum wage. When Moore approaches Clark he does it at the worst possible time. Why? because Moore WANTS Clark to get angry and close the door in his face. I'd shut the door in his face too. What's going on here? The list goes on and on and I'll leave it up to the inquisitive viewer to do a little research into how this films was made as almost all of the major points Moore is trying to make have been altered or major points left out to get his personal view across. And what's with Canada being portrayed as something almost bordering on Utopia? Did Moore ever mention that the film got major funding from Canadian government money through a Canadian production company!! And I have friends in Canada and they LOCK the doors!
I agree with what Moore is setting out to do but the film really never draws any conclusions and his tactics are not in line with what's considered Non-fiction. I almost felt Moore's tactics were as disturbing as the subject matter. When you have to distort the truth to such an extent and not even realize or admit to it, based on the way Moore defends everything in the film as the truth, is a very disturbing trend. This film has a tremendous power to influence people and they should really know the whole truth not Michael Moore's truth. Anything else truly is "fiction"
- One of the most thought provoking movies.by 7 May 2003on
77 out of 140 people found the following review useful:
What has become of the United States? Is there any difference from the United States that was formed by Puritans and tried to escape from persecution under the British flag? Has there always been a different mentality for the American than that of any other nationality of individual? After September 11th Michael Moore the director and writer set out to make a documentary that addressed these and other embedded questions that are addressed everyday in our news media, school systems, homes, stores and street corners. Attempting to address all sides of the issues as a person of the media Moore used not only his own experiences, his connection to the NRA, but also other persons opinions that ranged from Charlton Hesston, the well known president of the NRA and famous actor, to the average American that was confronted with the violent acts that resulted from the accessibility of fire arms. This documentary took a new approach to the display of information. Not only was animation used to explain history, American's imbedded fear of their own neighbors, but it also used rock music ( gave a beat or a pulse to the film that progress from slow to fast as the intensity of the issues progressed), sarcasm, interviews, and casual conversations. Moore traveled the country to talk to all those that make up the spectrum of the American society, he traveled to the scenes of some of the more recent American tragedies, made impromptu stops in corporations such as Kmart (where the boys from Columbine bought the ammunition used in the shooting), and traveled to Canada to get an outside or foreign opinion. The idea was to move away from the documentary style of `talking heads'; he wanted a film that would not only touch a chord with the American people but one that would also be readily watched. This idea also made the documentary, that there was too much influence placed on the `words of the professional' or the ` findings of the expert'; that these findings and misleadings flooded the news at night to increase the amount of fear that the average American has as it looked for a scape-goat to blame. The information that Moor presented in his documentary did not technically follow a pre-described narrative, but followed more of a form where the audience was left areas to think and to breakdown the information. Elements of the circular narrative were the foundation of the film, where similar elements in opinions and the common American we continually addressed. Yet, the only problem that could be addressed is one of the ways in which Moore collected some of his data. Some might see a use of trickery or manipulation was used on his part to get the responses and such passion-filled opinions stated. While others would see the same information in the light that no instigation was needed, that people have these strong beliefs, opinions and are willing to talk about them but they lack the examples or understanding of the topic to take a well informed stand on one side or the other. Such a problem is not new in the world of documentaries when controversial data is presented to the public. Moore did a great job of presenting a delicate subject to the American people and was deserving of the Academy Award for the project.
- should convince any impartial viewer...by 14 May 2004on
37 out of 65 people found the following review useful:
that michael moore is an obnoxious self-aggrandizing windbag... an incredibly overrated director who combines the crude rhetorical style of conservative media hacks like ann coulter with the nutty politics and unconvincing "millionaire spokesman for the common man" persona of ralph nader... basically just a left-wing version of rush limbaugh, only fatter.
anyone who honestly thinks that "bowling for columbine" is an accurate and thoughtful investigation of violent crime in american society does not live in the united states (as the demographic data on this website clearly illustrates) or is ideologically predisposed to agree with any crackpot theory that moore spits out. *obligatory spoiler warning* the critically acclaimed documentary is a rambling, poorly-focused melange of isolated statistics, erroneous insinuations (including a crappy cartoon suggesting that the NRA was established in conjunction with the ku klux klan), lame anecdotal evidence, sappy appeals to the audiences' emotions, and incredibly dull diatribes about irrelevant topics like air pollution and health care reform.
moore does, however, manage to pose an interesting question... why does canada, where gun ownership is common and violence-laced american forms of entertainment are popular, have lower violent crime rates than the united states? unfortunately, his laughably inept attempts to answer that question leave much to be desired. in "bowling for columbine" we are told that students sometimes shoot their classmates because k-mart sells cheap bullets, the CIA armed paramilitary groups in central america during the 1980s, and television news programs somehow turn ordinary people into racist lunatics. with stunningly tortured logic, moore also decides to blame former president clinton for declaring war on a murderous serbian dictator as well as dick clark for owning a restaurant that hired a single mother on welfare.
in a disingenuous interview with NRA president charlton heston, moore crosses the line between mildly entertaining leftist buffoon and self-righteous jerk. with pointed questions and shameful editing, moore portrays the aging actor, who suffers from alzhiemer's disease, as a bigoted old fossil. take a minute to read heston's biography on this website... he was an active member of the civil rights movement when moore was probably sitting in his parents' garage eating paint chips and sniffing model glue.
the target audience of smirking gullible foreigners, aging hippies, and naive latte-sipping college students will probably enjoy "bowling for columbine"... but anyone who does not already assume that america is overrun by heavily-armed, delusional sociopaths will find it tiresome and unconvincing... (2/10)
- canada seems a bit welcoming...by 1 February 2003on
10 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Michael Moore does this country a great justice with this film. He exposes the crazy, ultra-militant underbelly of American culture without spreading a bunch of liberal-slanted accusations that would taint the message. In fact, he has several conservative moments, including one where he doffs his lifetime NRA membership card before Charlton Heston.
Moore is quick to point out the paranoid American blame cycle that is the stain on our collective carpet. When bad things happen (or might happen) Americans are quick to single out the immediately convenient scapegoat, but are hardpressed to focus the microscope on the bigger picture of our progressively crumbling society. Especially as compares to other European nations and the relatively placid Canada, who are made out to be a paragon of virtue by comparison.
Between this even-handed film and the fact that I was forced to sign my life over to Selective Service to obtain college funding, I have the funny feeling I'll be seeing the better side of the Great Lakes soon. And to add to this joy, Bowling for Columbine gives any rational thinker the fuel to stand up to the most bigoted, indoctrinated, flag-waving apple pie die for your government pigeon.
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