Since its big screen debut last year, the mere mention of
“Bowling for Columbine” creates an eerie tension amid its viewers.
Especially after his infamous Academy Award acceptance speech, the
film’s director, Michael Moore, seems to spark controversy wherever
he goes. Now, several postponements later, “Bowling for Columbine”
makes its way to DVD, bringing with it four extra hours of special
features and an emotional intensity like no other.
The film itself is as psychologically haunting as it was on the
big screen. The audience is jerked through every pole on the
emotional spectrum. At times, the film incites a kind of nervous
laughter, where one questions whether it is okay to laugh in the
wake of school killings and international warfare, then shifts to
the indescribable sadness of violence and fear rampant in American
culture. It easily claims its title as one of the most influential
“box-office smash” movies of this generation.
More often than not, the scenes are tough to watch, whether for
the first time or the tenth, and Moore presents an undoubtedly
harsh critique of American society. It is still undoubtedly one of
the most thought-provoking films of recent memory.
As for the special features, don’t expect any of the flashy
outtake reels or behind-the-scenes gags of typical DVDs. Instead,
the viewer receives an abundance of Michael Moore: interviews,
lectures and television snippets of the film’s creator himself in a
simple but entertaining form. Some segments show him joking with
talk show hosts; others discuss the movie’s numerous awards,
including a recreation of Moore’s Oscar rant in his backyard. In
the “Return to Littleton” segment, Moore addresses the families of
Columbine, and citizens offering their reactions to the film.
On the lighter side, Moore and crew have added a longer
rendition of “Corporate Cops.” This is not to say the extras are in
any way banal or boring for Moore fans. On the contrary, it seems
Moore can capture his audience whether his mood is lighthearted or
solemn. However, the extended period of commentary may feel like a
bit much for some viewers.
Though the sound remains stellar for the main flick, it tends to
fade in and out for a few of the other features. Beware of the live
award show footage as the audience noise and technical glitches
make it difficult to hear at times.
As a now mainstream movie, “Bowling for Columbine” can elicit
more reactions from its audience than previously thought possible
within a five-minute timeframe. It will infuriate. It will inspire.
It will make its viewer feel physically ill. And yes, it might even
make you consider Canada as a prime candidate for your next
Film: 5 stars.
Picture/Sound: 4 stars.
Features: 4 stars.