Gun nuts or just nuts?
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Date: June, 2003

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Image: Momentum Pictures Home Entertainment. Click on the picture above to buy the DVD or video
 
'This is what we have come to expect with Moore: to face an onslaught of polemic with more hits than misses, which provides us with enough disconcerting questions for weeks to come.'


Bowling for Columbine
Directed by, and starring, Michael Moore
Distributed by Momentum Pictures,
now available on DVD and video, certificate 15

Click on the cover, left, to buy the film and raise money for Christian Aid projects

Review by Charlotte Haines

“Do you think it’s a little dangerous to be handing out guns in a bank?” asks the irreverent documentarist Michael Moore.

At the beginning of his Oscar winning film, Moore opens a bank account and receives a free “straight shooter” as a reward; a seemingly bizarre occurrence for a British viewer but as we soon discover, part and parcel of American gun culture.

After the Columbine shootings, Moore, best known for his satirical 'TV Nation' and books such as 'Stupid White Men', endeavoured to find out why there is so much gun violence in America.

The film's tag line “Are we a nation of gun nuts or just nuts?” seems a reasonable question as we learn that Canada may have
seven million guns inside its ten million households but only a tiny fraction of the gun deaths of its neighbour.

The film quickly progresses from suspicion of guns to explore the fear that is apparently inculcated in American citizens. A South Park-esque cartoon takes us on a superbly biting but funny canned history of America and its dread of attack whether from slaves, each other or terrorists.

We are also asked to question the effect of US government foreign policy as Louis Armstrong’s rendition of 'What a Wonderful World' accompanies newsreels of American past misdemeanours such as aiding coups and arming and training Osama Bin Laden.

Mind you, I was left wondering what Moore would make of the British history and foreign policy.

Occasionally, the film loses track; the interview with an elderly Charlton Heston, president of the National Rifle Association is disappointing.

However other sections such as Marilyn Manson’s delightfully lucid interview more than compensate for these faults.

This is what we have come to expect with Moore: to face an onslaught of polemic with more hits than misses, which provides us with enough disconcerting questions for weeks to come.

Personally I will be chewing over my attitude towards violence on television: I cried and cried as I watched security videos of the Columbine shootings, alongside the soundtrack of 911 calls including journalists blocking the lines at they attempt to get the
story.

Why was I more devastated by this than any recent war footage?

Note: There are no extras on the UK version of the DVD.