On April 20th, 1999 at Columbine High School, Colorado, Two students: Eric Harris and Dylan Klebald stormed the school grounds with two semi-automatic rifles and home made explosives, killing 12 students and a teacher, as well as injuring 21 others. The pair then committed suicide. This event was the inspiration for Michael Moore’s documentary Bowling For Columbine. In this film he tackles the issue of gun control in America and why they are so different to other countries around the world. Bowling for Columbine is a documentary style film which uses a standard medium shot throughout the entirety of the film.Medium shots are used in documentaries to give the viewer a sense of realism.
These shots are used to imply that the film is discussing a serious subject and the information being given by the interviewee is serious and factual as opposed to other shots which may make the viewer believe that camera has been set up and shot over a number of takes. Other than front on, there are no special camera angles used in the movie. This front on style of camera angle reinforces the seriousness of the topic and the person providing the information. The use of music in this film is a technique used to trigger an emotional response from the viewer.An example of this in Bowling for Columbine is the Happiness is a Warm Gun montage which contains stock footage of a number of murders and suicides. Another example is the use of the Louis Armstrong song, What a Wonderful World, set to another montage of American foreign policy decisions over the last fifty years. These and other songs are used, often to the point where they can be viewed as sarcastic, because the songs often contradict what is being shown on the screen.
While there are no special effects used in the movie, the music itself can be construed to a degree as an effect, nor are there any specific lighting effects.Michael Moore uses a number of techniques to influence the audience’s opinion of his topic. Moore uses statistics from numerous sources from the National Rifle Association to the American Government. These sources were used to show positive and negative sides of the topic. It can be easy enough to weigh the statistics in whichever way Moore sees fit and is sometimes used in the film to back the interviewee in a corner, giving Moore his desired answer. The style that this documentary is presented in is known as Participatory Mode. This style is a common style in documentary films and is used in all of Michael Moore’s films.
It shows the presenter of the film behind and in front of the camera, where they become a part of the film itself. Michael Moore interviews many high-profile figures in the movie, Such as Charlton Heston, the then-president of the National Rifle Association and Evan McCollum, the director of communication at the Lockheed Matin plant in Columbine, as well as numerous others to find out just why America’s thoughts on gun are so different to many other countries. Showing interviews in a film, especially in documentaries, keeps the audience in the intended state of realism.It may also be used to show two different sides of an argument. In Bowling for Columbine, showing two different interviews in succession of each other often shows a dividing line between the country. Interviews are also helpful in showing many different points of view. Moore spends a lot of time making people look bad, although he interviews and meets ‘victims’ of gun violence and crime, he spends a lot more time with the people who commit the acts.
His opinion and argument could come off as one sided and biased. Moore goes out of his way to make sure that he has the audience on his side for the entirety of the film.This film takes the gun control issue to another level and attempts to show some of America’s lesser points by showing you that although the American populace was aware of the severity of the situation; they weren’t willing to do something about it. In the years since the films release, a lot has changed as far as gun control and gun laws go in America. This includes K-mart ceasing the sale of ammunition at their stores nationwide and stricter gun laws in America. Although the flim may not be the exact reason for future law changes, it may very well have been the eye opener that the country needed.