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In the satirical, feature length documentary ‘Bowling for Columbine’ Michael Moore’s main objective is to find out why America is so gun crazy. He also aims to uncover reasons as to why two teenage boys would go into school with guns and murder twelve students and a teacher. Another task Michael Moore has set himself is to reveal the causes of America’s high gun crime rate. The views that Michael Moore expresses in the film are somewhat biased, he wants the audience to see his point of view.
To make you see his point of view he criticises and pokes fun at other points of view; it makes you laugh as well as agree with him. The real question Michael Moore is asking himself in the film is: “Are we a nation of gun nuts or are we just nuts.”
This documentary style film covers many different stories and issues. The main story being the Columbine high school shooting, where Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, students at the school, went in with guns and murdered twelve fellow students and one teacher before turning the guns on them selves.
Moore explores possible causes of the massacre and of other gun crime incidents
Other Case studies are tracked during the film, like the six year old boy who found a gun at home, took it school and soot a six year old year old girl. Another main component to the film is the interviews with celebrities and members of the public.
Moore interviews an employee of Lockheed Martin, the largest weapons factory in the world that is situated in the town where the Columbine shooters grew up. Marilyn Manson is also interviewed as many people have blamed him for the two boys that killed thirteen people. Many other experts and roles models were interviewed, as were many members of the public were interviewed. All the interviews are intertwined with archive footage of real gun crime, news footage and music.
One of the extremely effective techniques that Michael Moore uses through out the film is vox pop. A vox pop is where members of the public are interviewed and asked their opinion on certain topics, often in public places. This feature is especially effective in this film, as the publics view about crimes like this really make the audience think about what needs to be done. In ‘Bowling for Columbine’ the use of expert is highly important for the effect of the film. Moore uses two types of expert: those that agree with his point of view and those that don’t. To convince the audience that his opinion is more intelligent, Moore uses irony and satire to make the experts that disagree with him look stupid.
Michael Moore does his own voiceovers for the film. The voice over gives the audience more understanding of what he is doing and trying to achieve. Moore doing his own voice over gives him more chance to get his message across, mainly through irony and satire.
The archive footage has a big impact the movie. It’s another technique Moore use to get his point across, as it is real evidence filmed by others. As the archive footage is filmed by other persons, not associated with this film, Moore could not be accused of ‘making it up’ (although some have accused him of editing some pieces to suit his views).
The choice of music in this film is excellent, it fits in with the moods of each scene and in places is used to create irony. In the scene of the CCTV footage of the Columbine High School massacre the music is soft, slow and has no lyrics; intertwined with the images, it creates a rather sad atmosphere. Music is used for a completely different effect in the scene made up of many archive footage clips of world wide destruction. In this scene the clips are set over Louis Armstrong’s ‘What a Wonderful World’. This choice of music really makes the audience think about how the world isn’t actually all that wonderful.
All features together make ‘Bowling for Columbine’ a really interesting film with a lasting impact.
One of the most effective and thought provoking scenes in the film is the one compiled of CCTV footage and tape recordings from the Columbine High School massacre. The images alone are enough to make some people cry, but the way Moore used recordings of 911 calls and music made it even more touching. The slow, soft music with no lyrics creates a tense atmosphere. That scene left me feeling extremely downhearted, and with a desire to keep watching and find out what led two boys to commit such a horrific crime.
Another scene that had particular impact on me was the interview with Charlton Heston at his house in LA?. Michael Moore asked him questions about the NRA, gun control and the death of the six-year-old girl shot by her classmate. Heston’s answers are vague and Moore’s questions irritate him. After a short period, Heston walks away and tells Moore and the film crew to leave. I thought it was amazing to see how little Heston cares about gun crime, and even worse: how little he cares about the death of a young girl.
I think Michael Moore did not achieve his objectives by the end of this film. He aimed to find reasons for the exceptionally high gun crime rate that America has. Although he did find reasons, he also proved that they are not genuine reasons. For example, he thinks about violent video games, but the says that other countries have the same games but lower gun crime rates. Overall I thought it was an excellent, thought provoking film, although it’s rather biased and it doesn’t really reach a conclusion. The ‘Tag Line’ for the film is “Are we a nation of gun nuts or are we just nuts?” I expected that question would be given some sort of an answer, but it was left unanswered. I was kept intrigued throughout the film and I learnt a lot about American culture. The ending disappointed me, but apart from that I thought it was brilliant and definitely worth watching.
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