Michael Moore’s latest film, Fahrenheit 11/9, is a neat inversion on our memories of Fahrenheit 9/11 — his takedown of George Bush and the Iraq war. In this film Moore documents the betrayal of ordinary Americans, especially communities of color, by pretty much everyone in power, including Barack Obama, the media, liberal elites, people who fail to vote, the Electoral College, governors beholden to monied interests and of course Donald Trump. The film spends a lot of time on the lead-infused water crisis in Flint, Michigan, and then goes on to parallel the rise of Trump with the rise of Hitler.
There is a really creepy, icky segment about Trump’s sexualized relationship with his daughter, Ivanka, not just now but going back a very long time.
Rotten Tomatoes liked the film, and both Vox and Vulture reviewed it well. The film won accolades at the Toronto Film Festival. That said, the theater was practically empty, and the film is grossing poorly. These days that’s the measure of whether a film will stick around, not whether Michael Moore is still saying important things that people need to hear.
The strongest part of the film, for me, is that Moore gives voice to people who are not usually heard, including the amazing kids from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, striking underpaid teachers across the heartland, the immigrant doctor who treated lead poisoned kids in Flint and the public health employee who refused to falsify the test results documenting the debacle, an Iraqui war vet running for Congress whose rural Virginia district is dying, literally, from the opioid epidemic.
His parallel between the cultured, liberal society of Germany that somehow succumbed to Hitler and what’s happening our country now was sobering.
Near the end of the film the screen goes dark and there is the sound of an emergency warning — at the theater I went to, notice was given before we went in. Apparently the emergency seemed too real to people in some theaters, causing alarm.
That’s Moore’s point, exactly. The emergency that gave rise toTrump is here, and we need to be really, really alarmed.