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Throughout Bowling For Columbine an anti-political, critical and persuasive perspective is dominant. Bowling For Columbine is a documentary directed, written, produced and narrated by the controversial Michael Moore. The 2002 film aims to open the eyes of Americans and people worldwide to gun control. The movie is based on the shooting massacre that occurred at Columbine High School, where two students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold entered their Alma Mater and killed 15 people, also injuring an additional 21 students. The film investigates gun control in the USA and the lack of law and regulation on gun ownership.
People have various controversial views on the movie ‘Bowling For Columbine ‘, especially relating to how much of Moore ‘s film is supported by facts. This article will provide an unambiguous view on gun violence in the USA, whilst also seeking to reveal the truth behind the movie and about the persuasive power of documentary. The film positions the audience through the use of convincing techniques to accept the ‘truth ‘ set forth in the film, although these issues are very real in the United States. ‘Bowling For Columbine ‘ explores various exaggerated representations of the American populous, whilst also bestowing on the audience that there are problems with guns and their second amendment. The filmmaker is superficial with his questions that are pointed, the use of witty, dry and mocking remarks are used in his favour to lighten the fact that it ‘s a movie about people shooting others.
From the word go, Moore sets off on his routine prejudice pathway. This included Moore opening a new account at North Country Bank that offers him a gun, whilst asking sarcastic questions like ‘Do you think it ‘s a little dangerous handing out guns at a bank? ‘ and not letting the workers give a response. Moore uses such techniques to mock the staff, which helps him achieve his purpose, inadequately proving the ‘truth ‘ over the evidence.
In addition to Moore ‘s scornful interrogations, he uses music to portray a certain light in the film. A truly touching and upsetting section of the documentary is the montage with ‘What a Wonderful World ‘ played over the top flashes are shown of America ‘s decisions in the past relating to war and foreign involvement. The use of Louis Armstrong ‘s song is ridiculing the American government, which makes a suggestion how it isn ‘t a ‘wonderful world ‘, in fact the opposite. The flashing by of the clips of people dying, being shot and interracial foreigners carrying American built guns aesthetically gives the feeling of a mismanaged government. Moore does this to turn his audience from the political leaders to his personal views through making the audience distraught.
Furthermore throughout the film it continues on making the audience feel further troubled. This is experienced in the scene when the 911 calls overlay the slow motion video footage walking through the corridors of Columbine High School. Which is intended to position the audience as a first hand student and gives a distressed feeling due to the audience feeling remorse for these dying students. Then it cuts to video footage from the cafeteria on April 20, 1999, watching shots fired, students hiding scared under the lunch tables, bombs exploding, fires starting and students running to get out. This major scene, influences the audience to feel upset and the tone gives a scared feeling, which reinforces the issue of gun control.
Following the scene vividly re-living the Columbine High shootings, Moore switches to the then NRA president, Charlton Heston, as he screams his famous five word line ‘From my cold dead hands ‘ (Heston, 2002) and waves a gun above his head to a roaring crowd. A voiceover is played which explains how just ten days after the massacre, the NRA held a pro-gun rally in Denver despite the pleas of the community in mourning. Moore pushes this negative representation of the NRA when in fact Heston didn ‘t scream his five words on this occasion; it actually was one year later in Charlotte (refer to picture underneath the column). Also the ‘NRA meeting after the flint shootings ‘ occurred 8 months later. Moore uses his power to portray Heston as a villain, through using illusion of reality to converting the audience ‘s perspective.
Throughout the first hour, Moore uses an aggressive stance and reasons why America has a high rate of gun related violence, but to meet his intention he contests with a counterexample and provides a description. To start off he states the overwhelming number of guns must be the reason, and then subsequently he states that Canada has about the same ratio of guns, but only a third of the homicides. Moore also discusses Europe in comparison to America ‘s violent history.
During the closing scene of ‘Columbine ‘ Moore is filmed going to Hollywood to interview and ridicule the NRA president Charlton Heston. At first when asking for the interview Moore appears as a keen and eager fan, then criticizes Heston. During the interview Heston repeatedly pauses and doesn ‘t respond to the question asked, Moore uses these as an advantage to silence his opinion and asks relentless and rude remarks. Moore is a coward for taking advantage of Heston who was in the early stages of Alzheimer ‘s Disease (A brain disease leading to a decrease in mental power). In the end, Heston quickly leaves after getting up and announcing that the interview is over. Moore uses this illusion of reality, portraying the negative NRA stance into the final scene making the audience reflect.
After the final scene, Moore uses additional voiceovers providing additional bias. The documentary targets Americans and teenagers throughout the world, especially those who don ‘t have a clear knowledge of why there is so much gun violence. Throughout the film there are bursts of music and loud grasping sounds that are used to grab the audiences attention. Moore uses a series of cleverly edited together loud and shocking clips, which are a combination of visual and auditory footage. This is designed to keep the attention and confuse the audience. Shocking and explosive newsflashes, strange circumstances, frustrated interviewees, sardonic twists, and animations all joined together into an hour and fifty-seven minutes, the movie is best described as a documentary for the new generation. Furthermore Moore uses analytical features and prejudicial techniques, which position the audience to accept his point of view over the NRA or Charlton Heston. Moore has been ridiculed for editing to suit his aim, which isn ‘t following the documentary genre.
Moore correspondingly marginalises to suit his aim. In the film, it is focused on an anti-gun stance, but there isn ‘t time for pro gun enthusiasts to voice their opinion. Moore repetitively edits out responses to his questions so that it doesn ‘t affect the state of mind he wants his viewers to feel, also mocking people through his voiceovers. Although his techniques are arguable, the issues of which he discusses are of significance. Gun loving is as American as having a pie on thanksgiving, although he shows more opinions antigun related, he doesn ‘t make opinions up for his viewers, he used rhetorical questions which let the audience think about what they are watching. ‘Columbine’ is a well-organised documentary, which helps raise issues in a political controlled society, and in the end it lets viewers think, which a lot of modern day movies lack.
Do you believe that Moore depicts the American culture correctly? A group of people living and breathing in fear? Do you suppose that he is telling the truth? On first viewing the movie I believed Moore, did you?
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