This Week's PCR|
"Bowling For Columbine"
Movie review by: Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars
Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars
Back for a limited run and a possible Oscar nomination next week, "Bowling for Columbine" is not only the finest documentaries of the past year, but also one of the best films.
Director Moore, whose previous works include the film, "Roger and Me" and the television show "TV Nation," takes on a question that should bother everyone: Why are there so many gun-related deaths in this country? His conclusion: that they are just too easy to obtain.
He begins by opening a CD account at a local bank. He has been led there by the ad in the newspaper which boasts "free gun with every new account." After passing a rather routine background check, he is handed a shiny new rifle. In leaving, he questions the wisdom of handing out guns in a bank.
The centerpiece of the film is the tragic events that took place at Columbine High School. The film takes its title from the fact that Brian Harris and Dylan Kleibold both attended their early morning bowling class right before they killed 12 fellow classmates and a teacher. Interviews with students have the two young men described as "weird" and "creepy." Footage from the school's security cameras show the killers as they make their way through the school with the audio tapes of frantic 911 calls in the background. A very chilling moment that makes you wonder how these two young men can so easily bowl two games with some of the same students they would just as easily murder a few hours later. Moore assembles a montage of the various reasons people gave for the boy's actions: "Violent movies." "Heavy Metal." "South Park." "Bad parenting." "Marilyn Manson." Actually, Manson's name is brought up about ten times. Moore then proceeds to interview Manson, whose quiet, intelligent answers are almost a complete opposite of his image. At the end of the interview, Manson is asked what he would say to the students of Columbine. "Nothing," he replies. "I'd listen. Which is what no one took the time to do."
Next, Moore takes two of the survivors of the Columbine massacre to K-mart headquarters. The bullets used in the killings were purchased at K-mart and the two young men, who still have the bullets in their bodies, want to return them. After a brief meeting with a PR person, Moore and the boys go to a local K-mart and buy every bullet in the store. The next day, they arrive at the headquarters again, this time with the press. They are stunned when a K-mart rep announces that within 90 days K-mart will cease to sell any ammunition in any of their stores.
The final segment of the film deals with the National Rifle Association. Moore relates the fact that he is a lifetime member of the NRA, but has problems with its current leader, actor Charlton Heston. Much was made of the fact that 10 days after the Columbine tragedy the NRA held a convention in nearby Denver. It was here that Heston held a rifle aloft and declared "From my cold, dead hands!" Reading a message from the mayor of Denver "not to come here," Heston replies that "we're already here!"
On a trip to California, Moore, on a whim, buys a "Map to the Stars Houses" and walks up to Charlton Heston's house. He arranges to meet with him the next day. He questions Heston as to why there are so many gun deaths in America. Heston suggests that it's the same in most countries. Moore tells him that, in countries with similar populations and gun owners, gun deaths are nearly nonexistent. In one year, Germany had 381. England - 167. Japan - 83. Canada - 67. The USA - 11,127!! Heston opines that perhaps it is the "ethnicity" of America. After all, we are a melting pot of all cultures. After Moore presses Heston on a couple more items, Heston politely excuses himself from the interview. Much has been made about Heston's recent announcement that he has Alzheimer's disease and Moore has been chastised for attacking an ailing old man. However, it is quite apparent that Heston is quite sharp in the interview.
Moore closes the film with more looks at gun violence throughout the country, ending with a report of three people who were shot to death at the bowling alley in Littleton, Colorado...........where the Columbine High School students bowled.
Whatever side of the gun control fence you are on, this film will certainly make you think! On a scale of zero to four stars I give "Bowling for Columbine"