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View Full Version : The truth about "Bowling For Columbine"


lookslikeme
03-28-03, 11:11 PM
I'm sure there's other threads about this already, but I did a search in the movie forum and didn't see anything along these lines.

I tried to never form an opinion about Micheal Moore, but Bowling For Columbine had some obvious lies that I couldn't let die. I remember being very affected by the Columbine shootings, and did a lot of research at the time to try and make sense of it all. I remember paying close attention to the NRA's reaction to the shootings, and my memory didn't match up with Moore's film version. Also, I work for Lockheed Martin (not in Littleton, CO), and I knew for a fact that his presentation of the company was untrue. Most of the other facts in the movie I couldn't possibly confirm or deny, but knowing what I do know, I have a hard time believing them. Because of that, I did some research of my own, and I came across this website (contains tons of spoilers):

http://www.hardylaw.net/Truth_About_Bowling.html

Flynn
03-28-03, 11:40 PM
Very informative. Still loved the movie.

MrPeanut
03-29-03, 12:10 AM
Moore get's mad about stuff like that.
http://www.suntimes.com/output/answ-man/sho-sunday-ebert231.htm

Sunday Morning
03-29-03, 12:30 AM
Documentaries are never the final word on anything, its all about perspective. Moore's may be wrong. But he does make entertaining films.


[opens can of worms]
Perhaps they should have CSI's make documentaries.
I bet they could link heston's guns to quite a few shootings in texas... :)[/runsaway from can of worms and giggles]

yecul
03-29-03, 01:53 AM
I believe Moore is in the entertainment business first, I'm sure a quote can be found supporting this.

That being said, there is such a thing called editing. If you disagree with his points or his findings or his opinions, then dispute them. Offer counter evidence. Give your own opinion. But, to pick his apart... What's the point? You can pick apart any documentary because they have to cut something out...

jfoobar
03-29-03, 02:10 AM
Originally posted by yecul
I believe Moore is in the entertainment business first, I'm sure a quote can be found supporting this.

That being said, there is such a thing called editing. If you disagree with his points or his findings or his opinions, then dispute them. Offer counter evidence. Give your own opinion. But, to pick his apart... What's the point? You can pick apart any documentary because they have to cut something out...

Perhaps you should read the link again. The issue is not what he cut out so much as what he created out of thin air and presented to the audience as fact. The word is not "editing", which could be spun off as nothing more than exaggeration for effect. The word is "fabrication."

Moore intended for his audience to find BFC fairly light-hearted in many ways. He did not intend for his audience to find it fictional. That is pure dishonesty and, considering his predilection for accusing others of dishonesty the moment some fool puts a microphone within 10 feet of him, hypocrisy as well.

fmian
03-29-03, 06:40 AM
The documentries take on certain situations only arises because the people he interviews say stupid things and can't back themselves up properly. The guy at Lockheed Martin, Charlton Heston and a host of other people let themselves get dug into a hole. K-Mart on the other hand act how you would expect anyone to act. The K-Mart reps come across as cautious at first, but end up understanding and changing their ways.

The main find that Moore seems to make is the difference between the media in Canada and the US, which most certainly seems to be the reason behind all the violence.

Jason
03-29-03, 09:52 AM
There's just as much spin in this article as there is in BFC.

from the article

Bowling portrays this with the following sequence:

Weeping children outside Columbine, explaining how near they had come to death and how their friends had just been murdered before their eyes;

Cut to Charlton Heston holding a musket over his head and happily proclaiming "I have only five words for you: 'from my cold, dead, hands'" to a cheering NRA crowd.

Cut to billboard advertising the meeting, while Moore in voiceover intones "Just ten days after the Columbine killings, despite the pleas of a community in mourning, Charlton Heston came to Denver and held a large pro-gun rally for the National Rifle Association;"

Cut to Heston (supposedly) continuing speech... "I have a message from the Mayor, Mr. Wellington Webb, the Mayor of Denver. He sent me this; it says 'don't come here. We don't want you here.' I say to the Mayor this is our country, as Americans we're free to travel wherever we want in our broad land. Don't come here? We're already here."

The portrayal is one of Heston and NRA arrogantly holding a protest rally in response to the deaths -- or, as one reviewer put it, "it seemed that Charlton Heston and others rushed to Littleton to hold rallies and demonstrations directly after the tragedy." [italics added]. Moore successfully causes viewers to reach this conclusion. It is in fact false.



Although the annual convention was scheduled well in advance of the Columbine tragedy, Heston's statements showed a total lack of tact in dealing with what they knew to be a very delicate situation, and many people agree with Moore's conclusion.

covenant
03-29-03, 12:05 PM
Heston's "cold dead hands" speech, which leads off Moore's depiction of the Denver meeting, was not given at Denver after Columbine. It was given a year later in Charlotte, North Carolina, and was a response to his being given the musket, a collector's piece, at that annual meeting. Bowling leads off with this speech, and then splices in footage which was taken in Denver and refers to Denver, to create the impression that the entire clip was taken at the Denver event.

The rest of the "message to the mayor" section of the speech was cut and paste editing to make it appear something it wasn't.

below is a crucial portion of Heston's speech in context:

"NRA members are in city hall, Fort Carson, NORAD, the Air Force Academy and the Olympic Training Center. And yes, NRA members are surely among the police and fire and SWAT team heroes who risked their lives to rescue the students at Columbine.

Don't come here? We're already here. This community is our home. Every community in America is our home. We are a 128-year-old fixture of mainstream America. The Second Amendment ethic of lawful, responsible firearm ownership spans the broadest cross section of American life imaginable.

So, we have the same right as all other citizens to be here. To help shoulder the grief and share our sorrow and to offer our respectful, reassured voice to the national discourse that has erupted around this tragedy."

angryyoungman
03-29-03, 01:17 PM
I don't know about anyone else, but it was immeadiately obvious to me that the "cold dead hands" quote was from a completely different meeting--the location, clothes, etc were different. I don't see how anyone would be mislead by that.

Parts of the speech were cut out, and it certainly make the NRA leadership look more cold and indifferent, but Moore also makes a huge point of the fact that he is a gun nut and a card carrying member. Before seeing the film, I was actually expecting it to be an anti-gun, anti-NRA film, and I really don't think it was. Moore was mainly making a point about our culture of fear and our reliance on violence.

Some of the things on that website are legitimate criticisms, but in the context of the broader ideas touched on in the film, it doesn't make BFC any less relevant, IMO.

yecul
03-29-03, 02:02 PM
Perhaps you should read the link again. The issue is not what he cut out so much as what he created out of thin air and presented to the audience as fact. The word is not "editing", which could be spun off as nothing more than exaggeration for effect. The word is "fabrication."

Thank you for completely supporting my statement.

lesterlong
03-29-03, 03:38 PM
Moore's film was kinda like that part in Mr. Deeds where the evil news man edits the news footage to make Sandler look bad. Ok, that comparison is stretching it but its true.

Mourn
03-29-03, 03:41 PM
Documentaries are not about portraying the truth, they are about making an arguement. If the arguement features exagerations and even falsehoods it doesn't mean the movie isn't a documentary; after all, ever seen a performative documentary?

These exagerations and falsehoods however are legitimate criticisms of a documentary's arguement, but no documentary ever portrays an "objective truth," it is not possible.

Kaffe_02
03-29-03, 04:34 PM
Originally posted by Mourn
Documentaries are not about portraying the truth, they are about making an arguement. If the arguement features exagerations and even falsehoods it doesn't mean the movie isn't a documentary; after all, ever seen a performative documentary?

These exagerations and falsehoods however are legitimate criticisms of a documentary's arguement, but no documentary ever portrays an "objective truth," it is not possible.

From Dictionary.com

doc∑u∑men∑ta∑ry ( P ) Pronunciation Key (dky-mnt-r) adj.
1) Consisting of, concerning, or based on documents.
2) Presenting facts objectively without editorializing or inserting fictional matter, as in a book or film.

n. pl. doc∑u∑men∑ta∑ries

A work, such as a film or television program, presenting political, social, or historical subject matter in a factual and informative manner and often consisting of actual news films or interviews accompanied by narration.

So it should be factual. Now these are fictional times and all but still I thikn documentaries should try to show the truth and reality of the situation otherwise they are just propaganda and outright lies.

Just my $.02

lookslikeme
03-29-03, 04:38 PM
The lies and exagerations in this film do discredit Moore, simply because his whole point in his Oscar's tyrade was that he love non-fiction, and hates fiction. I can understand the argument that his movie was meant to only emphasize America's love of guns, and his editing of the NRA speeches was a just means to serve that purpose. I don't agree with that argument, but I can at least understand it. His claim that Littleton, CO's Lockheed Martin plant makes weapons, and in some way influenced the two Columbine shooters is just a bold faced lie, and I can't quite follow the logic behind it.

The only thing that his movie, and his Oscar speech have done for me is make him look like a hypocrit, and basically ruin any credibility that I ever thought he had.

fmian
03-29-03, 05:04 PM
Originally posted by lookslikeme
The lies and exagerations in this film do discredit Moore, simply because his whole point in his Oscar's tyrade was that he love non-fiction, and hates fiction. I can understand the argument that his movie was meant to only emphasize America's love of guns, and his editing of the NRA speeches was a just means to serve that purpose. I don't agree with that argument, but I can at least understand it. His claim that Littleton, CO's Lockheed Martin plant makes weapons, and in some way influenced the two Columbine shooters is just a bold faced lie, and I can't quite follow the logic behind it.

The only thing that his movie, and his Oscar speech have done for me is make him look like a hypocrit, and basically ruin any credibility that I ever thought he had.

I have a feeling that you didn't watch the movie entirely, or maybe that your brain skipped over certain parts of it. Moore tackles the question 'Why are Americans so violent?' the same way as any sane person would. And that is by analysing the main reasons for why it might be that way. He doesn't EVER claim that the NRA, or K-Mart, or Lockheed Martin are responsible for it. He merely raises the original question to the spokesmen/women for each organisation. It's not Moore's fault that the people he interviews end up making bumbling fools of themselves. They could just answer with 'No, I don't think our organisation is a contribution to the problem, and I don't know what the cause is. It's a tough question which I'm sure you already know since you're making a documentary to find out the answer for it. Good Luck.'

He even passes his findings on to Charlton Heston at the end saying that Canada has a lot of guns but isn't violent, so maybe it isn't the guns that causes the problem, but Heston still thinks he's being attacked. It scares me to think that a senile old man who doesn't even know why he's pro-gun is leading on every other person in the country who owns a gun.

Mourn
03-29-03, 05:57 PM
So it should be factual. Now these are fictional times and all but still I thikn documentaries should try to show the truth and reality of the situation otherwise they are just propaganda and outright lies.

Trust me, i just spent a month on documentary theory... they spent most of that time hammering it into our heads that there is no such thing as "truth" or "reality" when it comes to documentary.

Now, i'm not saying that "lieing" doesn't effect the credibility of a documentary, but it is a facet of all documentaries as they all at least lie by omission and not a one is even remotely objective (we aren't even allowed to use that word in regards to documentary).

lookslikeme
03-30-03, 01:18 AM
I think either I'm misrepresenting myself, or maybe I'm not being specific enough. Like I said, I can understand why Moore edited the speeches, and guided the other information the way he did. That doesn't mean that I agree with most of the points he alluded to. My question is, why did he need to lie, and manipulate scenarios so severely to prove his point?
The Lockheed Martin plant that he singled out has nothing to do with weapons development, or defense contracting, so why did he feel the need to make it out to be? There's plenty of companies throughout the country that do the work that he claims the Littleton, CO, Lockheed Martin does, so why not go to one of them? The only reason I can see for it, is to try and make some sort of correlation between the company and the shootings. Otherwise, I don't see the logic behind it. I may be just misinterpretting his intent, but it's an out-and-out lie, and I don't see why he's taken that direction.

fmian
03-30-03, 02:48 AM
Originally posted by lookslikeme
The Lockheed Martin plant that he singled out has nothing to do with weapons development, or defense contracting, so why did he feel the need to make it out to be? There's plenty of companies throughout the country that do the work that he claims the Littleton, CO, Lockheed Martin does, so why not go to one of them?

I think you DID miss out bits of the movie. He goes to that specific plant because the fathers of the columbine shooting kids work(ed) there. Also, I'm pretty sure I sure a massive missile right behind the guy he was interviewing. I'm sure Moore also explained that every now and then they have to transport these missiles out of the plant and they are forced to do it in the middle of the night.

Krug
03-30-03, 11:48 AM
He got people who watched the movie thinking about gun control, which was his purpose. Compared to Chicago, his was the most important film of the year, PERIOD.

fmian
03-30-03, 12:26 PM
Originally posted by Krug
He got people who watched the movie thinking about gun control, which was his purpose. Compared to Chicago, his was the most important film of the year, PERIOD.

Whoa, wait a minute.
Catherine Zeta Jones' legs are an important thing to think about as well!! :)

angryyoungman
03-30-03, 01:09 PM
Again, I have to say it was pretty obvious that Moore was not trying to lay any blame on Lockheed Martin for Columbine, and I can't see how anyone who saw the entire film would come out of it thinking that. I would have a hard time believing people would come out of this film with a notion that Lockheed Martin is even partly to blame for that tragedy, that's not the point.

And I personally think the fact that the Littleton facility doesn't actually construct weapons is irrelevant--the company itself is a defense contractor and does actually build missiles and other weapons for the military. I'm not defending Moore's misleading statement in the film, but don't you think that perhaps even the people in Littleton might not know that this facility doesn't actually build weapons? I would guess many of them assume they do. In any case, it's all besides the point.

I think what Moore was doing was what the media and our culture usually does in times of tragedy--find someone or something to blame--and taking it a step further. If we can ask whether video games or music are the cause, isn't it just as valid to ask about the other parts of these kids' lives--their parents' jobs with a defense contractor, guns, ammunition purchased at Wal-Mart, the pressure put upon them by family and society to "succeed", bowling, or the TV news for a cause? The idea is that there are no easy answers, except perhaps that our society and culture are inherently prone to this sort of senseless violence.

That's why the tagline is "Are we a nation of gun nuts or are we just nuts?".

kian69
03-30-03, 01:24 PM
Bottom line is, I really enjoyed his documentary. Most if not all of the information provided, were indeed true, and he did a pretty good job trying to back up his sources. I for one, was in agreement with many things he said.

inri222
03-31-03, 02:04 AM
NANOOK OF THE NORTH laid the groundwork.
Considered to be the first documentary.
Some of it was fake and staged.

wm lopez
03-31-03, 02:57 AM
Hey, he's a liberal.
They are known for free speech, as long as it's not the truth.
You God, etc. etc.

jfoobar
03-31-03, 05:01 AM
Originally posted by yecul
Thank you for completely supporting my statement.

I may have supported your point (but I doubt it), but I certainly did not support your statement.

jfoobar
03-31-03, 05:10 AM
Originally posted by Mourn
Documentaries are not about portraying the truth, they are about making an arguement.

I don't care how much time you spend in "documentary theory." Your statement is pretty hard to swallow.

If I make a film about the mating habits of Arctic wolves, is this not a documentary? What arguments am I making, that wolves fornicate?

If the arguement features exagerations and even falsehoods it doesn't mean the movie isn't a documentary; after all, ever seen a performative documentary?

These exagerations and falsehoods however are legitimate criticisms of a documentary's arguement, but no documentary ever portrays an "objective truth," it is not possible.

In the sense that no human being is capable of being entirely objective about anything, especially anything they feel some passion about, yes. That doesn't mean that objectivity should not always be the goal of a documentary filmmaker.

Moore engaged in numerous acts of absolute dishonesty in the creation of his entertaining little film. It is therefore simply a film, not a documentary as his objective was never to present the truth to his audience.

Krug
03-31-03, 08:58 AM
Originally posted by JustinS
In the sense that no human being is capable of being entirely objective about anything, especially anything they feel some passion about, yes. That doesn't mean that objectivity should not always be the goal of a documentary filmmaker.

Moore engaged in numerous acts of absolute dishonesty in the creation of his entertaining little film. It is therefore simply a film, not a documentary as his objective was never to present the truth to his audience.

Oh please he made a documentary of what he saw as HIS truth. There's no doubt that he believed in the movie he made, and he succeeded.

AGuyNamedMike
03-31-03, 09:55 AM
Well, what I see as MY truth is that the once relatively brilliant Mr. Moore has seen better days, and that it is a sad testament to our twenty-first century "reality TV" watching population's intellect that BFC, incoherent and farcicly contrived as it is, has been so lauded. I agree with Moore's inferrence that we Americans are violent and aggressive, but I find his tactics insulting and embarrassing. Even he, in some of his more lucid moments, must be realizing how far he has fallen.

quashmonger
03-31-03, 11:02 AM
Anyone who believes that there is objective truth is really quite sad and deluded. BFC was a pretty good documentary overall -- but it had large plot holes and the like. The fact that it has won so many award, kudos, and accolades has little to do with politics and the like and everything to do with most individuals' lack of exposure to good documentaries. Might I suggest -- Crumb, American Movie, Genghis Blues, The Sweetest Sound, Salesman, etc.

movielib
03-31-03, 11:49 AM
Here's an illustration of what I believe is the difference between documentary filmmaking and fabrication:

A 1997 film, Waco: The Rules of Engagement was nominated for Best Documentary. It had a point of view: that the government mishandled the whole mess and was responsible for the deaths. It may have been wrong about some of the facts (its claim that Davidians were shot at trying to escape the fire is still a matter in dispute and there is evidence on both sides) but it was obviously responsibly made and and I know of no deliberate lies.

I saw another much shorter, much less professionally made film on TV about the same time W:TRoE came out. It was made by a very far right wing organization whose name I don't recall. There was one shot of a tank backing out of the building (I can't bring myself to say "compound") where for a few moments it appeared there were flame being shot out of a tank. The narrator said just that, that the tank was shooting flames into the building. It looked so clearly like fire, I wondered why nobody else had picked up on this footage. Later, on a TV show I saw the same footage only it continued a few more seconds. As the tank emerges you can see without a doubt that it is not fire but a bright reflection.

Waco: The Rules of Engagement is a documentary. The other film is like what Michael Moore does.

sherm42
03-31-03, 12:14 PM
When I went into BFC, I was expecting to see Moore argue for gun control and the elimination of guns. I was surprised to see him look at all the different aspects of why this country is so different from others with guns.

Pants
03-31-03, 12:39 PM
Originally posted by movielib
Here's an illustration of what I believe is the difference between documentary filmmaking and fabrication:

A 1997 film, Waco: The Rules of Engagement was nominated for Best Documentary. It had a point of view: that the government mishandled the whole mess and was responsible for the deaths. It may have been wrong about some of the facts (its claim that Davidians were shot at trying to escape the fire is still a matter in dispute and there is evidence on both sides) but it was obviously responsibly made and and I know of no deliberate lies.

I saw another much shorter, much less professionally made film on TV about the same time W:TRoE came out. It was made by a very far right wing organization whose name I don't recall. There was one shot of a tank backing out of the building (I can't bring myself to say "compound") where for a few moments it appeared there were flame being shot out of a tank. The narrator said just that, that the tank was shooting flames into the building. It looked so clearly like fire, I wondered why nobody else had picked up on this footage. Later, on a TV show I saw the same footage only it continued a few more seconds. As the tank emerges you can see without a doubt that it is not fire but a bright reflection.

Waco: The Rules of Engagement is a documentary. The other film is like what Michael Moore does. Excellent post :up:

I love Waco: The Rules of Engagement it is a real documentary. Moore's film, well, you can call it a documentary, but it is really more of an editorial or essay film. Last month's Film Comment had a lengthy article where they argued BFC as being in a long history of "essay films".

tasha99
03-31-03, 01:11 PM
Originally posted by Mourn
Trust me, i just spent a month on documentary theory... they spent most of that time hammering it into our heads that there is no such thing as "truth" or "reality" when it comes to documentary.

Now, i'm not saying that "lieing" doesn't effect the credibility of a documentary, but it is a facet of all documentaries as they all at least lie by omission and not a one is even remotely objective (we aren't even allowed to use that word in regards to documentary).

I agree. How can a director's voice and opinion not come through when he is the one who makes the cuts? I thought there were a couple of serious omissions in Paradise Lost, a documentary about the Robin Hood Hill Murders. Not enough to invalidate the movie--I definately think the boys convicted of the crimes were hosed and deserve a new trial; but the movies weren't as objective as they appeared at first, mostly because of what was not shown.

yecul
03-31-03, 04:02 PM
The two Waco film comparison isn't accurate. While his opponents have stated that Moore "tricks" the audience by showing certain events in a certain order that they didn't necessarily occur in (Heston's speech, for example), I don't believe anyone has said he lied. Or grossly misrepresented the truth.

As for Moore lying or whatever, that's just wrong. You can say it was irresponsible or inaccurate or whatever when he manipulates the timeline (if that is the beef), but you can't say he's lying.

movielib
03-31-03, 04:59 PM
Originally posted by yecul
The two Waco film comparison isn't accurate. While his opponents have stated that Moore "tricks" the audience by showing certain events in a certain order that they didn't necessarily occur in (Heston's speech, for example), I don't believe anyone has said he lied. Or grossly misrepresented the truth.

As for Moore lying or whatever, that's just wrong. You can say it was irresponsible or inaccurate or whatever when he manipulates the timeline (if that is the beef), but you can't say he's lying.
You don't think misrepresenting and misleading are lying?

Could you bring yourself to say he's deceitful?

yecul
03-31-03, 08:06 PM
Nope, I don't think anything was that big of a deal. Nor do I think anything changed the message, tone, intent, interpretation, nor anything else in the film. As I said before, it's merely an attempt to tear down Moore himself rather than what he's putting forth. There are some very valid points to defeat what he says -- that Detroit and Vancuver have different population densities, for example. Why bother with this junk? It doesn't change the questions he raises, merely their presentation. And, in the end, those questions are what you should take from the film.

littlefuzzy
03-31-03, 10:09 PM
If someone took Clinton's "I did not have sex with that woman." and removed the "not", that would edit the quote to the point of being a lie (not whether he didn't have sex, but whether he SAID he didn't have sex...)

Edit: Case in point, with the last post in the thread...
Originally posted by yecul
Nope, I don't think ... there are ... valid points to ... what he says
I completely misquoted this and took it out of context. Is my doing so a lie or misrepresentation?

AGuyNamedMike
03-31-03, 11:26 PM
Originally posted by littlefuzzy
If someone took Clinton's "I did not have sex with that woman." and removed the "not", that would edit the quote to the point of being a lie (not whether he didn't have sex, but whether he SAID he didn't have sex...)

Edit: Case in point, with the last post in the thread...

I completely misquoted this and took it out of context. Is my doing so a lie or misrepresentation?

:lol: snap!

Hiro11
04-01-03, 09:29 AM
BFC is a superbly made little piece of self-hating propoganda made by a rich, white American NRA member. It's tailor-made for the European left, sophomoric college students and hypocritical celebrities like Moore himself. It edits together leading questions, misleading juxtapositions and half-truths. It pretends to be "of the people" while simultaneously mocking blue-collar America. It stays ridiculously shallow in some areas and delves deeply in other in service of making its point. I really enjoyed it.

Any documentary is going to have an agenda, no documentary maker is going to be able to accurately depict all sides of any issue. If you believe that anything you see presented as a "documentary" is objective fact, you're deluding yourself. This goes for both documentaries you agree with and those you don't. It's up to the viewer to make up his/her mind if what is being shown is truth or absolute ********.

After watching BFC, I found myself looking up gun control on the internet, getting into spirited conversations on the topic. In short, I was using my brain. I learned a lot about the topic and solidified some opinions I had while modifying others. That's why I think this movie is successful, it gets people talking. That's always a good thing.

Pants
04-01-03, 11:42 AM
It pretends to be "of the people" while simultaneously mocking blue-collar America. Moore's stock in trade. He ridicules most mercilessly that which he claims he sticks up for.

Hiro11, I agree w/ what you said up to a point. If you badmouth it as much as you do, then what does it say about you, or anyone else, when you say it affected so much change in your way of thinking? If you deride it so harshly, yet it drives you to examine yourself, then what good is it? I might admire that a work of art inspired you and expanded your world view, but not when you openly point out every flaw and short comming. If you admit the film is s**t but it inspired you, then it isn't a great film, your just a person inspired by s**t.

yecul
04-01-03, 11:46 AM
I completely misquoted this and took it out of context. Is my doing so a lie or misrepresentation?

Yes, that was misrepresentation.

But, I don't see the relevance, because BfC did not do this. I saw all the evidence damning him, but it was mostly picking apart the editing and choice of clips (ie, timeframe). While you can certainly interpret that as lies if it suits you, I don't because it does nothing to his views, his point, his questions, the theories, the theme, or anything else. All it does is provide fodder for dismissing what he's saying on nothing more than the presentation. Which is sad because whether you agree/disagree with him, there were some very interesting things/topics in that film, and it sure got people talking. If only we could avoid this sort of discussion because it's really rather irrelevant.

Seriously, while it certainly had its implied view and you could obviously get a taste of what Moore thinks, there were no conclusions or "answers", merely questions.

grunter
04-01-03, 11:47 AM
Two observations:

(1) So for a film to be a "documentary," one has to agree wholeheartedly with the subject matter of the film? Since gun advocates can't seem to sit still through a screening of "Bowling for Columbine" without reflexively reaching for their sidearms and wanting to riddle the screen with bulletholes, then - of course - the film is one big lie.

(2) Gee. A political thread filled almost exclusively with n00bs. Imagine that.

Pants
04-01-03, 12:01 PM
Who you callin' a n00b? :)

BfC is an Essay Film. For the second time in this thread I will refer everyone to last months Film Comment (the one w/ Gangs of NY on the cover) where a writer spends several pages weighing the virtues of documentary and essay films, discusses BfC, and concludes that BfC is an essay film, their key arguement being that it is from a subjective POV of it's author who sculpts his images at the whim of his arguement, rather than being objective.

Now Film Comment isn't the be-all-end-all God of all movie opinion, but the writer isn't some uninformed hack either. I stand by their conclusions they are a good magizine (Entertainment Weekly it ain't). BfC is in a long line of Essay Films by Marker and Godard and others. Go read the article, then have the debate.

MrN
04-01-03, 12:07 PM
You know, it doesn't make an ounce of difference if people here decide to label BFC a documentary, an essay-film or paranoia-piece. The people who make films and documentaries have labeled it a documentary. And on top of that, its now a highly awarded documentary. Can we move along?

Pants
04-01-03, 12:23 PM
The reason for the debate MrN is that as a documentary it is most assuredly s**t, but as an essay film (a personal expression existing outside the bounds of proper representation of facts) it might be something.

TheAllPurposeNothing
04-01-03, 03:34 PM
From John Grierson, the man who coined the phrase "Documentary."

Defined it as "a creative treatment of reality."

In regards to the Dictionary.com definition, even dictionaries have publisher-based biases and can be misleading. The field of documentary film is much more expansive than the Dictionary.com definition would ever allow. Thousands of pages of theoretical dissertation regarding documentaries have still failed to come up with an acceptable blanket definition. How could less than 20 words in an on-line dictionary hope to? Within the field of established documentarians and documentary theorists, you would be laughed at if you tried to use that definition to make your argument that BFC is not a "documentary."

Mr. Pants - As for the Film Comment article, I haven't read it yet. But from your description, it sounds quite naive. Since the objective to be objective is lost the second the film/video shot is framed, many documentary filmmakers entirely eschew the concept to begin with. Any attempt to film "reality" or in an "objective" manner automatically becomes an "essay."

For a better overview of the field of documentary film, try Michael Renov's "Theorizing Documentary." A little on the wordy side but it gives a better view of the many competing definitions of "documentary" and sub-genres of documentary film-making.

Pants
04-01-03, 05:10 PM
Originally posted by TheAllPurposeNothing
Mr. Pants - Just...Pants

audrey
04-01-03, 05:57 PM
Believing that documentaries present an <i>objective</i> view of reality is as naÔve as thinking that history records the <i>truth</i>--both are fundamentally impossible.

MrN
04-01-03, 07:34 PM
The act of observation changes affects the subject. So, unless you insist that all documentaries be shot in secret, then there is no 'true' documentary.

All this talk about genre is just nit picking.

Nobody blamed Lockheed directly for the Columbine incident - it was mentioned as an example of inherent violence all around us.

This is akin to saying The Godfather is a bad movie because of the phantom punch. All films (including documentaries) manipulate the audience. Its up to the intelligent viewer to take away the important points.

jfoobar
04-02-03, 02:37 AM
Originally posted by MrN
This is akin to saying The Godfather is a bad movie because of the phantom punch. All films (including documentaries) manipulate the audience. Its up to the intelligent viewer to take away the important points.

So its up to the audience to just know that scenes presented as reality were inm fact staged, that quotes presented as reality were in fact spliced together fabrications?

How does the intelligent audience know this, MrN, if the filmmaker does not come clean about his/her dubious methods? Please note, I am asking on behalf of the intelligent viewer, not the psychic viewer.

You hear "filmmaker X employed numerous dishonest methods" and respond with "well, no documentary is completelty objective", as if the two are in any way synonomous.

How can a film that repeatedly and intentionally misrepresents fact be considered a documentary?

MrN
04-02-03, 03:19 AM
Originally posted by JustinS
So its up to the audience to just know that scenes presented as reality were inm fact staged, that quotes presented as reality were in fact spliced together fabrications?

Audiences should have some skepticism when they watch any film. I may see pigs talk in Babe but I know its not real. Similarly, things are implied (usually through editing) in documentaries and news interviews that are not necessarily true. When scene A is followed by scene B, a chronology is implied, but is it in fact a direct lie? No, not unless there's an erroneus date given on screen.

The documentarian is allowed to give his/her point of view and imply judgements. To ask them not to do so is unrealistic. To expect them to be infalliable is absurd.

How does the intelligent audience know this, MrN, if the filmmaker does not come clean about his/her dubious methods? Please note, I am asking on behalf of the intelligent viewer, not the psychic viewer.

You hear "filmmaker X employed numerous dishonest methods" and respond with "well, no documentary is completelty objective", as if the two are in any way synonomous.

The intelligent viewer is expected to use his/her intelligence to process the facts and draw their conclusions. I can tell you what I think of the 'fabrications' and the 'dishonest methods' but my final judgement is with the picture in total.

How can a film that repeatedly and intentionally misrepresents fact be considered a documentary?

It is a documentary because people (comprising a vast majority) consider it a documentary. Your personal definition may vary, but really, its time to let it go. This is not as bad as Moore not letting go of the Bush election, but its getting there.

jfoobar
04-02-03, 05:52 AM
Originally posted by MrN
Audiences should have some skepticism when they watch any film. I may see pigs talk in Babe but I know its not real. Similarly, things are implied (usually through editing) in documentaries and news interviews that are not necessarily true.

So you are comparing a children's film featuring a talking pig with a socio-political documentary? That's rich. Pointless, but rich.

When scene A is followed by scene B, a chronology is implied, but is it in fact a direct lie? No, not unless there's an erroneus date given on screen.

When it was clearly meant to imply a chronological relationship it is a direct lie. When a speech is chopped up into little bits and rearranged to say something entirely different than it originally did, it most certainly is a direct lie. When scenes are staged but presented as being actual occurrences, it most certainly is a direct lie.

The documentarian is allowed to give his/her point of view and imply judgements. To ask them not to do so is unrealistic. To expect them to be infalliable is absurd.

Once again, you are taking defense behind this tired argument which has nary a thing to do with the criticisms levied against Moore for his methods. I have yet to see anyone in this thread criticizing Moore for not being infalliable or being free of subjectivity. He is being criticized for being unethical and dishonest. He is being criticized for intentionally misrepresenting fact.

The intelligent viewer is expected to use his/her intelligence to process the facts and draw their conclusions. I can tell you what I think of the 'fabrications' and the 'dishonest methods' but my final judgement is with the picture in total.

By all means, do tell us. Are you in a position to dispute the information presented in the link in the first post, or are you of the opinion that it doesn't matter?

It is a documentary because people (comprising a vast majority) consider it a documentary. Your personal definition may vary, but really, its time to let it go. This is not as bad as Moore not letting go of the Bush election, but its getting there.

You are, of course, welcome to stop participating in this thread. For that matter, if the best defense of Moore you can come up with is a comparison to Babe, perhaps you should.

The vast majority that you speak of is almost certainly unaware o the procedural criticisms levied against BFC. That the vast majority is wrong is sort of the point of this thread, don't you think? It's happened before, or was I misinformed when I was taught that the earth isn't flat?

Shall we take a poll of filmgoers and ask them if they expect a documentary to be, more or less, nonfiction?

yecul
04-02-03, 10:22 AM
Your extreme rhetoric, while seemlingly making your point of view appear sympathetic, does not represent reality.

MrN
04-02-03, 11:51 AM
Originally posted by JustinS
So you are comparing a children's film featuring a talking pig with a socio-political documentary? That's rich. Pointless, but rich.

The problem here is that you expect all documentaries to be truthful all the time. I'm saying film, by nature, is about presenting ideas by sleight of hand. Why must the audience be naive and accept everything if a film is a documentary? There are countless propaganda pieces that are also labeled documentaries.

When it was clearly meant to imply a chronological relationship it is a direct lie. When a speech is chopped up into little bits and rearranged to say something entirely different than it originally did, it most certainly is a direct lie. When scenes are staged but presented as being actual occurrences, it most certainly is a direct lie.

Once again, you are taking defense behind this tired argument which has nary a thing to do with the criticisms levied against Moore for his methods. I have yet to see anyone in this thread criticizing Moore for not being infalliable or being free of subjectivity. He is being criticized for being unethical and dishonest. He is being criticized for intentionally misrepresenting fact.

If its such a cut and dry case, then I wish the injured parties (including you as a member of the audience, if you've seen the film in question) would take Moore to court for libel. Since it has so many direct lies, it should be a short trial.

By all means, do tell us. Are you in a position to dispute the information presented in the link in the first post, or are you of the opinion that it doesn't matter?

I take the figures presented in both the documentary and in the link in the first post with a grain of salt. What I do know is that America has a lot of gun violence, and its disproportional in a world context. Even the 'corrected' numbers point to this. But lets ignore the point and instead haggle over figures and sources.

You are, of course, welcome to stop participating in this thread. For that matter, if the best defense of Moore you can come up with is a comparison to Babe, perhaps you should.

Thats the second time you say I compared BFC to Babe, which I haven't. I said you should be skeptical, no matter what you're watching.

The vast majority that you speak of is almost certainly unaware o the procedural criticisms levied against BFC. That the vast majority is wrong is sort of the point of this thread, don't you think? It's happened before, or was I misinformed when I was taught that the earth isn't flat?

Are you implying that the Earth is flat? This really supports your point. rotfl

Shall we take a poll of filmgoers and ask them if they expect a documentary to be, more or less, nonfiction?

So your entire argument against BFC is that its not a documentary? And its not a documentary because you think all documentaries are truthful all the time? I say again, these are unrealistic expectations.

The governing bodies of film have labeled BFC a documentary - most of them even awarded the film as a good example of a documentary. Perhaps getting these people to change their label/award would go a long way in changing the public perception of BFC. Good luck.

Grimfarrow
04-02-03, 12:07 PM
Originally posted by JustinS

You are, of course, welcome to stop participating in this thread. For that matter, if the best defense of Moore you can come up with is a comparison to Babe, perhaps you should.


It is utterly tactless for you to be making insulting insinuations to others, especially when they are trying to make a rational case without personal attacks.

If you cannot reason without contempt, then I think you should really go outside and take a breather. There are much more important things to do than to get hissy-fits over some random guys' comments on an internet message board.

Speaking of which, I will heed my own advice and not comment anymore.

yecul
04-02-03, 02:02 PM
There is no point in picking apart the 'analysis' of BfC linked at the beginning of this thread. The vast majority of it is his interpretation of events and explaining away things by making excuses. It's clear that, just as Moore has his opinions and biases, the author has his and it's incredibly transparent. I would think the intermittent snipes taken at Moore throughout shows the author's arrogance, bias, and anger.

He does exactly what he accuses Moore of doing, ironically. He's misrepresented and twisted the information making his own conclusions and presenting them as fact in his quest to damn Moore.

An example of this: Can't find a source for Moore's data? Well, clearly he invented them.

I don't have the time nor do I care enough to go through it all and break it down. Besides, would there even be a point? Would you buy anyone's viewpoint that differs from your own? Doubtful.