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Bowling for Columbine

July 13, 2007

Title: Bowling for Columbine
Director: Michael Moore
Genre: Documentary
Awards:
Theme: Guns….Guns….Guns

Released in 2002, this documentary brought instant fame to Michael Moore. Both controversial because of its content and attack on one of the fundamental rights in US constitution and thought provoking, the flick revolves around the 1999 massacre in Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Well, the film isn’t about how the massacre happened on that day, but it tries to talk about why such an event happened in first place and how the society at large responds to such incidents.

Plot: The first scene opens with Moore entering a bank where there’s an offer of getting a free gun along with opening an account for certain specified minimum amount and later he visits a super market nearby to buy the necessary ammo. Then later he goes to a shoot out practice session of “Michigan Militia” which is an informal group of people who practice shooting and there Moore comes across several people who confess about the type of weapons they own. Then later, he visits the Lockheed Martin (world’s largest weapons manufacturer) plant and interviews one of the official there and tries to understand what their view of the columbine massacre was. Then the story is transferred to Littleton, Colorado where the Columbine High School Massacre happened. There’s also a recorded footage of the two guys shooting everyone around, followed by couple of other interviews of the wounded personnel. Here, enters Charlton Heston, the President of National Rifle Association to promote a pro-gun rally in the town which faces some serious opposition from the parents of the children who died in the massacre and others. In the interviews that follow, there’s a student who’s a school drop-out, who tells how easy it is to get a gun and sell it for an amount of pot!….and another student who was on the most suspicious student’s list capable of causing some damage.

Later, Moore interviews another person whose brother was involved in blowing up a federal building and tries to understand his view on the gun related issues. The next person he interviews is Matt Stone, the co-creator of South Park, who reveals the attitude of schools like Columbine where, the method of teaching is through fear and an impression that once a failure is always a failure! One of the funniest clips in the whole movie is this animated bit on “History of USA”….where it is explained about various events which led to declaring possessing of firearms as a fundamental right and later led to proliferation of Guns. Moore also questions the morality of the idea that “More Guns leads to Less Crime”. To prove his point he reveals some numbers where there are lot of guns but lesser crime rate as opposed to USA. To show some concrete proof for these numbers he goes to Canada and comes to know about various issues where Canadians stand and their way of solving problems. In another sub-theme of the plot, the role of media is also questioned. A producer of a reality show, “COPS” agrees that, the news on TV is true but then the TV Channels always choose their topics….which over a period of time has branded certain sections of community (in this case blacks) as dangerous and someone with a criminal mentality.

Finally the movie concludes with a couple of teenagers who were injured in the Columbine Massacre making K-Mart change their ammo selling policy. Also another major event in the meantime is a 6 year old guy killing his 6 year old girl in the class in Moore’s own town in Michigan…which prompts Moore to talk to Charlton Heston who incidentally was in the same town a week later. In the interview he question’s Heston’s motive of provoking the people to take up guns in the shadow of such tragedy! Moore concludes the film with another line…..questioning what it means to be an American under such circumstances.

One of the good things about the movie is that it doesn’t have a Problem-Solution kind of narrative or the theme itself. It’s got more to do with accepting that we have a problem and we collectively have to come up with a solution. It also questions the morality behind making guns a necessity for everyone….again the focus here is on keeping the public in fear so that the corresponding business is good…like Firearms in the aftermath of 9/11….After having heard about the Virginia Tech Shootout earlier this year, I as a non-American, always wonder, how can someone make Owning firearms a Fundamental Right!…it’s as if you have a bomb right in your hand..the only question is, whether you throw it in your neighbour’s house or wait till the right moment comes up to kill yourself!!!….Anyway, no offense intended, maybe the judgment isn’t mine to make…but it still makes me wonder, how they can be restricted from children and other people who might use it for wrong purposes?!

One of my favourite clips from the movie…”History of USA”

It’s an interesting film…although the subject is kind of disturbing….there’s enough of everything to make this flick worth all the effort…..

To read more reviews….click here

PS: Thanks to Udki for storing this flick in his comp…otherwise, I am not sure how I could have seen it soon, just after watching Moore’s Latest!….
Photo courtesy: Wikipedia

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