Fahrenheit 11/9

Sep 24, 2018

You don't have to dislike Trump to see this incisive documentary.

Fahrenheit 11/9

Grade: A-

Director: Michael Moore (Roger and Me)

Screenplay: Moore

Cast: Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, et al.

Rating: R

Runtime: 2 h 8 min

By: John DeSando

“Yes, I will show you some stuff about Trump that you haven’t seen, but if you’re coming to see the pee tape, you’re going to the wrong movie.” Michael Moore

By now most moviegoers are aware of Michael Moore’s left-leaning documentaries from jousting with General Motors to the NRA. His hallmark is himself as he intrudes on his target’s home turf to occupy too much space in the frame and the faces of his prey. While his Fahrenheit 9/11 scared us with its reveal about the Bush administration’s manipulation of the 9/11 responses, this Fahrenheit will scare the bejesus out of you in its indictment of our democracy that spawned Donald Trump.

In Fahrenheit 11/9, he turns to Donald Trump, whom he ultimately compares to famous fascists, not the least of them Hitler. Although this film sounds like nectar for a liberal, Moore effectively limits Trump’s presence and maximizes footage, not showing his well-known flaws but rather emphasizing the power of the people to effect change and the power of those who put him in power, as well as what to expect from a Nazi-like administration.

After a stunning opening, which slickly shows Hillary Clinton’s seemingly-inevitable rise to the presidency, he settles in to the Trump reality, which spawns insurgencies from national teachers’ strikes to young people reacting against guns and their lobbies after the Parkland massacre. Moore is comfortable with letting Trump’s influence be under the radar while Moore emphasizes our complicity in Trump’s ascendency and the growing populist power of peaceful protest to effect change.

Make no mistake, Trump’s demagoguery seems to lie at the heart of the reactions, and it’s here that Moore is most effective. In fact, when he depicts Obama caving to political power in the Michigan water crisis rather than saving the common people, Moore gains credibility that he is not just a mouthpiece for the Dems. In addition, Nancy Pelosi and Bill Clinton are depicted as giving into the corporate powers. Uncharacteristically, Moore indicts both sides.

The virtue of Fahrenheit is its willingness to sail calmly amidst the unrest over Trump; its vice is, per usual, Moore’s unwillingness to deal with Trump achievements. Such bias in inherent in most documentaries, which will present the best case from their point of view. It’s just that Moore has had a super-bias reputation, well-deserved, that now is adjusted to a softer angle of vision.

That angle is to encourage voters to turn out in November to oppose Trumpites and support candidates who will acknowledge the needs of the middle class. Action on all fronts is what’s needed, not ineffective words. Whether or not the populace can support a polarizing but effective Bloomberg could be the subject for another Michael Moore documentary.

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at