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Bowling For Columbine (2002)

Is America a nation of gun nuts – or just nuts?

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 120 minutes

UK Certificate: 15


After watching "Bowling For Columbine", you could be forgiven for being left with the impression that sharp-eyed documentarist Michael Moore has one of the few sane voices left in gun-totin', junk food-munching, war-mongering America. Thankfully, it's not quite that cut and dry – but Moore certainly has a way of making you sit up and take notice.

Centred around the horrific shooting incident at Colorado's Columbine High School on April 20, 1999, Moore sets out to uncover the facts behind gun culture in American society. Why do such a whopping number of shootings occur in the US every year in comparison to the likes of Canada and the UK? Why is there a general perception among the American people that crime rates are on the increase, despite the reverse being true? Why is a normal everyday bank handing out free weapons in return for opening an account? These are just some of the questions asked, but unsurprisingly left more or less unanswered.

It's the classic media effects debate – are action movies, rock stars and beat-em-up video games to blame for violence in society? Moore pays a visit to the deceptively media-savvy goth rocker Marilyn Manson, who certainly doesn't think so. He also drops in on rifles-daft Hollywood star Charlton Heston to ask why he led a pro-gun rally in Colorado just weeks after the Columbine massacre. Heston, it's fair to say, is not best chuffed.

History teachers in years to come could do a lot worse than present this fascinating film to students as a snapshot of American society at the turn of the millennium. Moore has an undoubted knack for making political issues not only interesting and understandable, but at times also extremely entertaining. Despite the deeply serious subject matter, "Bowling for Columbine" is at times hilarious in its presentation – and there lies the secret of how Moore gets his message through to people.

It's Got: The kind of material you’re not likely to see in an advert from the American tourist board any time soon.

It Needs: Some more convincing answers from Mr Heston.

DVD Extras Audio commentary from Michael Moore, London FilmFestival Q & A session, extended interview footage with Charlton Heston. DVD Extras Rating: 5/10


Though-provoking and funny, but much like many of Moore’s projects, it raises many more questions than it does answers. Then again, perhaps that’s the point.