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July 19, 2004 


Today I talked to my husband, had some breakfast, went to the pool, swam, sunbathed, swam, sunbathed, ran inside from the rain. I have to say it was nice to talk on the phone, not the internet. For all the advantages of VoIP (it's free) it is sometimes nice not to have to boot up the computer, and not to have to piece together parts of the conversation when the connection lags. When I ran inside I decided to pull my plans for the day forwards - instead of going to the cinema this evening, I would catch the lunchtime showing.

It was the first time I've cried at a film before the opening credits have passed. It was the first time I've cried at a film just after the opening credits. It was the first time I've heard an all-out argument in a cinema between two strangers. It was the first time I've actually made notes through a film. It was the first time I have felt physically sick - not even the Passion of the Christ made me feel this way. It was the first time I've heard voluntary shouts, cries, just words falling out of peoples mouths as they watched. It was the first time I've heard spontaneous applause. It was the first time I've been so affected by a film that I couldn't drive afterwards.

Guessed what it was yet?

Maybe it's because I was on my own. Maybe I've been away from home too long. My feelings on the war, and Dubya, and Puppy-Blair have been clear for a long time. I knew that going into the film I was more likely to appreciate it than someone who stands on the other side of the fence to me. I also knew that it was propaganda - a not-entirely unbiased view. I've heard it said that this film may do more harm than good to the campaign-to-elect-anyone-other-than-Bush. I had heard a lot of things about this film, but not one of them prepared me for it properly.

If Michael Moore set out to shock the public, to remind them of the horrors going on in Iraq, whatever their opinions may be, he succeeded. The only time silence decended on the theatre was during the shots of wounded and dead civilians in Iraq. If he set out to remind people that the last election was extremely close, and if they wanted their candidate to win, then they should vote, then he succeeded. If he wanted to run a propaganda campaign against Bush, Jr and Sr, and against corporate America, then he succeeded.

If he wanted to change peoples minds, to convince them that what they thought was right is actually wrong, and to get them to believe his propaganda, then I just don't know. Shots of soldiers demanding Rumsfeld's resignation. Shots of mothers of the dead, on 9/11 and in Iraq, demanding answers. Shots of Bush etc meeting with the Taliban, with Saddam, with Bin Laden. Facts about oil companies, puppet regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. Shots of a conference to talk about how to milk the oil money in Iraq for the best benefit of the US. Dubya stating that he is "a war president" and that everything he thinks about is connected with war. Dubya stating that "this is the guy that tried to kill my Dad". The fact that of 535 congressmen, only one of them has a child conscripted to Iraq. All these are compelling, but without the other side of the story, they give off an air of bias, an air of hiding something.

Of all of this, the thing that makes me distrust this film is Michael Moore's complete lack of mention of Britain as he talks about the alliance. He shows a picture of Tony Blair once. That's it. Why? Either Britain means so little to America that it's not even worth holding up our faults, or Michael Moore knows he's going to make a lot of money out of this film across the Atlantic and he doesn't want to jeopardise that. The film is for America - timed to coincide with the presidential primaries, and designed to show Bush in his worst light. The rest of it is about making money. Which makes Michael Moore not that different to Bush.

This film affected me more than any film I've seen before. I can't deny that. I also can't deny that it left a slightly sour taste in my mouth.