April 2003
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Bowling for a better country
By: Laura B., Grade 12, Fredericton High, Fredericton, NB

Bowling For Columbine

Michael Moore

Dog Eat Dog Films

It is not often that a film criticizing all aspects of American culture gets a standing ovation at the Academy Awards, the birthplace and stomping grounds of American culture itself.

When Michael Moore’s latest film, "Bowling For Columbine", received the award for Best Documentary at the prestigious Academy Awards, the audience went wild. His acceptance speech was cut short because of its controversial matter, but Moore did have the time to utter these scolding words: "Shame on you, Mr. Bush, Shame on you."

"Bowling For Columbine" is a documentary commenting on the American gun culture, and American culture in general. Viewers come out with a better grasp on what it is that drives a country to such excesses, and what lies behind the frenzy of consumption. The movie explores American culture from its beginnings to what could very well be its end.

What makes "Bowling For Columbine" touching is the fact that it is completely honest. While lost in contemplation of the facts that Moore offered me during the movie, I still had time to appreciate that for once I was not being bombarded with marketing. I was able to trust what was being said because I knew that there was no evil intention behind the making of this movie. It was simply a statement of what Moore knew from his research into American culture, and he was presenting it without pushing it, because Mr. Moore had nothing to sell.

Throughout "Bowling For Columbine", Michael Moore interviews a wide variety of people, celebrities and ordinary citizens alike. Well-known faces appearing in the movie include rock star Marilyn Manson, comedian Chris Rock, South Park creator Trey Parker, and actor/ National Rifle Association representative Charlton Heston. These interviews are quite revealing. I was especially surprised to find that the shock rock idol Marilyn Manson, when interviewed, was calm, thoughtful, and had insightful wisdom to offer.

Moore succeeds in putting together an interesting, revealing documentary without the usual tediousness that I find comes with such a style of movie. His facts are well researched, he presents views from both sides, and he drives the message home, while still allowing the movie to roll along at a comfortable pace.

Though the soundtrack of the movie is not very noticeable, at some points it does enhance the tragedy of certain situations, or the irony of others. The song "Happiness is a Warm Gun", by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, is very fitting, and certainly its message is brought out loud and clear by the movie.

The overall message of "Bowling For Columbine" is clear and definite. While Moore makes his position on the film's covered issues clear, he allows room for the viewer to cast his or her own judgment. The film's cinematography uses various media, including cartoons, news reports, and interviews, intermingled with images that illustrate the topics.

I left "Bowling For Columbine" in a state of shock, wonder, bitterness, and hope. The movie had revealed to me many facts and awakened me to many harsh truths. I was angry at our culture for perpetrating such disgusting lavishness and greed. But when a movie such as "Bowling For Columbine" not only is made, but also receives an Oscar and a standing ovation, wins 22 awards internationally, and becomes a Box Office hit, beating the previously held record for documentaries by 300 %, I dare say that there is a glimmer of hope left for this society.


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