This scathing indictment of Donald Trump’s presidency and how he got there is a political call to action and an explosion of anger towards the way that democracy is run in America. Directed, produced and written by Michael Moore, the outspoken advocate of social change who you might remember from Bowling for Columbine and now Fahrenheit 9/11.

I know very little about American politics, I’ve never studied politics so it sort of confuses me. I tend to gloss over American politics specifically because it frustrates me a little bit. This film is a way in which to understand American politics, and how Donald Trump became president as well as how democracy is failing in a very clear-cut manner. I quite liked this, it didn’t do the “maybes” and “what ifs”, it states the facts that are known, provides evidence and explains how this happened.

This documentary follows many threads. The main three are the Flint Water Crisis, the Parkland School Shooting and activism that followed, and a comparison of Nazi regime and how Hitler was elected in comparison to Trump.

In each part of the documentary, Moore interviews people regarding the main threads to understand what happened in terms of the Flint crisis, the impact of the Parkland shooting and then talks to history professors, even the last prosecutor of the Nuremberg War Trials in a sort of comparison to Nazi Germany. The information is clear and you learn so much. These sorts of things are not really covered in New Zealand news, so I found I learned things I might not have before.

The problem with this structure is how Moore tries to squeeze more in. There is a bit about how many sexual predators have high ranking republican positions, the problem regarding teachers wages and bus drivers, even how democratic parties have resulted in lower voting numbers and even lied about results! All squeezed in around these main points, alongside jumping between the 3 points specifically near the end. There is so much information that it can be difficult to retain it all and understand completely.

The main theme is democracy. How the elites have the power over the political system, and how it is failing the people of America, alongside showing how the people have stopped voting and why. I found this interesting, showing a call where a high-ranking Democratic leader Steny Hoyer called Levi Tillemann who was running for congress (also a democrat) and told him to withdraw from the race as they had selected someone months ago to win that seat. It makes you think about how democracy is run all over and if that is happening in your own country.

For a movie about Trump, it doesn’t really focus on him. I found this to be a bit of a let-down, this film is advertised to be an indictment of Trump, but instead it is an indictment of democracy. I would have liked to see Trump’s part in all this, but instead Moore focuses on how Trump fits into Deposition, focusing minorly on his policies. I would have liked to see how Trump’s politics are impacting people today, instead of showing how Obama screwed the voting numbers. It seems that a film focused on Trump should look much more into his role as president and not what he did many years ago.

I enjoyed this documentary. It shows you the problems of democracy, and is a call to action in terms of making real noticeable change. How the elites have the power and how everyone else is suffering. It is an interesting and informative watch on how American politics reached this point, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in the topic. However, the full plot and the seemingly insignificant focus on Trump other than the Nazi comparison seems like a weak argument that we have all heard before, hundreds of times.

8

Pros

  • Analysis of Democracy
  • Easy to follow the argument
  • Knowledgeable

Cons

  • Too many threads
  • Not enough analysis of Trump and his presidency

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