Bowling for Columbine

Movie Review #954

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Premiered at Cannes Film Festival on May 15, 2002. Limited release on October 11, 2002. Nationwide release on November 15, 2002. Limited re-release on February 14, 2003. Documentary. This film is rated R for some violent images and language. Runs 120 minutes. A Canadian-American co-production, with additional German involvement. Written and directed by Michael Moore. Featuring Michael Moore, Mike Bradley, Arthur Busch, Michael Caldwell, Richard Castaldo, Dick Clark, Mike Epstein, Denny Fennell, Prof. Barry Glassner, Dick Herlan, Charlton Heston, Jimmie Hughes, Amanda Lamante, Mary Lorenz, Marilyn Manson, Tom Mauser, Evan McCollum, James Nichols, Sheriff Robert Pickell, Nicole Schlief, Matt Stone, and Mark Taylor.

INTRIGUING AND THOUGHT-PROVOKING.

★★★½
By Alexander Diminiano

If there’s ever an instance where Michael Moore and I agree on any political matter, it’s probably because one of us has developed a severe psychological disorder. Among the many things we disagree on is gun control, which Moore investigates in “Bowling for Columbine”.

Remarkably, I was fascinated by this documentary. At the same time that he digs deep into a prominent political issue (one that retains every bit of relevance over a decade later), his film places far less value on opinion than on explanation of opinion. Which, particularly for something from an infamously dogmatic director, is incredible.

In other words, it’s not the what but the how that makes “Bowling for Columbine” such a gripping study. I could spend this whole review condemning Moore’s position on gun control, but there’s no point, because this is one of the most persuasive movies I have ever seen.

The film’s title is somewhat misleading. This isn’t a documentary about the 1999 Columbine massacre, or about the unfortunately many similar tragedies that have occurred since. It’s a wakeup call for America. It’s also an exploration of one unanswerable question: If other nations have access to guns as readily as the United States, then why is gun violence so much more prominent in America?

Moore’s documentary is daring and in some ways humorous. In one specific scene, he goes to Canada, a hunter nation, but a nation where gun violence is barely an issue. Hearing a rumor that Canadians feel safe enough to leave their doors unlocked at all hours of the day, he goes from door to door casually opening up unlocked doors and walking right in. The Canadians treat him as a visitor, not as a criminal.

“Bowling for Columbine” is a thought-provoking documentary. This is a movie that wants you to think about the effect gun violence has on America. It’s pretty hard to ignore the issue after a study like this. Even when Michael Moore gets sidetracked (i.e. questioning why Blacks are stereotyped as violent when the majority of gun violence is perpetuated by White Americans), he still has our undivided attention.

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