If 2004 is the year of the documentary, Michael Moore's Palme d'Or-winning Fahrenheit 9/11 is undoubtedly doc of the year. A two-hour examination of the Bush administration - from the 2000 election, the handling of 9/11, the bombing of Afghanistan, and invasion of Iraq - it's a bloated, biased, and brilliant piece of political filmmaking. It's also the film the powers-that-be didn't want you to see - an incendiary, raging epic that will do more to scupper George Bush's re-election hopes than anything the Democrats could dream up.
No even-handed debate, Fahrenheit 9/11 is a poleaxe polemic that sees Moore pulling no punches in his shamelessly simple, partisan aim: to expose the Bush administration that led America into a war. Bullish and unstoppable, the comedian-turned-activist "oaf savant" ploughs through (by now possibly) familiar territory, condensing the tangled web of the Bush family's business links - to the Taliban, the Bin Laden family, and corporations like Haliburton - into bite-sized chunks.
"BUSH WILL WEEP WHEN HE SEES IT"
The comedy is devastatingly effective: the Iraq invasion replayed as Bonanza; Bush stumbling over his lines; Moore following a pair of Marine Corps recruiters. Yet where Moore's blatantly populist film succeeds is in its raw, horrific power. Limiting the grandstanding stunts he used in Bowling For Columbine to just a few choice segments (like hiring an ice cream van to circle Washington reading the Patriot Act to America's congressmen), Moore lets his compilation of archival footage do the majority of the talking.
Gruelling images of injured Iraqi children (their wounds shown in graphic close-ups never seen on the television news), civilian napalm victims whose skin has been completely melted, and the sheer despair of bereaved mothers (both American and Iraqi) will reduce you to tears more than once. President Bush will no doubt weep too when he sees it - though, one suspects, for very different reasons.