Bowling for Columbine

Issue/Context: Gun Control in USA

Directed by: Michael Moore’s 2002 American Documentary

Box Office $58,008,423
Budget $4 Million

Opening Scene:

  • Black and White Archival Footage of soldier, with narrator/voice over, American theme music. 500 firearms handed to costumers when they open a free account at the Bank – Ironic of violence.
  • Introduction to history of Michael Moore’s childhood, growing up around the Gun.
  • Gun ammo can be purchased at the Barber Shop.
  • Male Hunter – “Every American is entitled to a firearm and should therefore own one”.
  • Female Hunter – “I got my first gun, as soon as i was able to…It is a means of protection”.
  • Interview: Kid: “I got kicked out of school, expelled…yeah 380 days or 176 days, or whatever a year of school is”.

John Nichols: No one has the right to tell me I can’t have it. That is protected on our constitution.

Michael Moore: Where does it say a handgun is protected?

John Nichols: No, gun. We should…

Michael Moore: [interrupting] It doesn’t say gun. It says “arms”.

John Nichols: Arms. What is “arms”?

Michael Moore: Could be a nuclear weapon.

John Nichols: It’s not these – That’s right. It could be a nuclear weapon.

Michael Moore: Do you think you should have the right to have weapons-grade plutonium here in the farm field?

John Nichols: We should be able to have anything…

Michael Moore: [interrupting] Should you have weapons? Should you have weapons-grade plutonium?

John Nichols: I don’t want it.

Michael Moore: But, should you have the right to have it if you did want it?

John Nichols: [thinking about it] That should be restricted.

Michael Moore: Oh. Oh, so you do believe in some restrictions?

John Nichols: Well, there’s wackos out there.

  • Narrator: Virginia “Every resident MUST have a gun in the household” – If not it is ILLEGAL.
  • Males are more attracted to guns when attractive women are involved with guns – Sexual link.
  • Juxtaposition: Montage of death shots by guns – CUT SCENE – “This is a great place to live”.
  • South Denver, Littleton: Demonstrating the protectiveness of a “middle class house”. <- Owner.
  • USAIF (USA Air Force): “missiles are purely for protection of America from other countries”. Jux: Montage of USA doing the opposite to protection, with missiles, with song ‘What a wonderful World’. Written Text: ‘1980’s: U.S. trains Osama Bin Laden and fellow terrorists to kill Soviets’. September 11, 2001 – As plane flies into building with ‘What a wonderful World’ music playing at the moment.
  • Written Text: ‘April 20, 1999’ – Shooting in Columbine High School – Slow Motion shots with distorted audio of panic. Actuality: CCTV camera footage of school. 2 Childern and 1 Teacher killed, 900 injured, several shots fired. Racial Shot of “Black, kid, because he was black”. Parent speaks out to public – loss his son, Daniel “There is something wrong in this country”.
  • Matt Stone: deep connection to the animation comedy TV Show, “South Park” – reflection of the Columbine town in the sense of “The land of the free”.
  • Columbine High School increases violence behaviour policy to nil through evidence of reference to harm to other students. “A Grade 2 student was sent home after bring a nail clipper to school, they say it could be a weapon”.
  • Marilyn Manson (Heavy Metal) – the music that was listened to, by the gunmen of Columbine High School stunt. “Keep everyone to consume” – the media using fear into manipulating Americans into purchases – TV adverts – is seen around the world however the connection is that Americans view weapon adverts on TV, as so to children. – Bad influence. -Through statistics, montage, archival footage, music from A Clockwork Orange (1971 British Film) : “11,127 people killed every year in America”. Gun ownership in America is the cause. Germany has around 335, France 220, Australia/Britain 60’s.
  • Animated history: appeal to children
  • Archival footage in montage: Popular culture is manipulated through the media – this supports Michael Moore’s view.
  • African Americans – “Violent”, European – “Passive”. Representation/Stereotype development of Racism.
  • A man would choose a gun over a dying baby…
  • TV Show – ‘COPS’ – Has more footage on African Americans then ‘white people’. – Producer/Director interview – Michael Moore is aiming to change the Industries as violence sells.
  • Windsor, Canada has very low crime rate – 1 in 3 years, and he was from Detroit.
  • Canadians dont lock their doors as exposure to no fear is displayed on the News. (The States always so the fear of gun use and murders and so on).
  • Youngest shooting (in American history) of a grade 1 girl, shot to death by a boy, grade 1 student [6 year olds] (in the same classroom).
  • “Gun Nuts” blame the parents for allowing guns to be in reach of children.
  • “After 9/11 Gun demand grew by 70% and Ammunition grew 140%”.
  • Michael Moore managed Kmart to ban the selling of guns and ammunition (from 90 days from that day).
  • “We [America] has a history of violence”.
By trentwhitworth

Documentary Codes

Documentary Codes:

  • Re-enactments
  • Interviews
  • Narration / Voice Over
  • Actuality
  • Stock  / Archival  / File – footage
  • Photographs
  • Footage of places/landscapes/cities
  • Documents
  • Graphics / Animation
  • Music
  • Sound effects
  • Montage
  • Location sound
  • Subtitles/ Titles/ Text / Captioning
  • Special effect e.g. slow motion etc.

Re-Enactments – Civil War

Interviews – Columbo

Narration and Voice Over – Once Upon a Time in Cabramatta

Actuality, Music, Subtitles/ Titles/ Text / Captioning Escaping North Korea

Stock  / Archival  / File  (footage) – Albert Einstein

Photographs, Documents – Donald Trump

Footage of places/landscapes/cities – Time Lapse

Graphics / Animation – Map Animation of Jordan

Sound effects – Wild Life

Montage – Top Gear UK 

Location sound – ‘AUSTRALIA’

Special effect e.g. slow motion etc. – National Geographic

Other Examples:


By trentwhitworth

Triumph of the Will (Triumph des Willens) – 1935

Triumph of the Will (Triumph des Willens) – 1935


Director: Leni Riefenstahl

The Production Context: This 1935 film involved 172 people in order to construct the product. During the lead up into the Second World War (WWII), starting from 1939 and ending in 1945, Leni Riefenstahl, the director of this production constructed this film for the benefits of Adolf Hitler. The production was considered to be a “very cheap film” costing only 280,000 marks or in other words $110,600 (US Dollars) in 1934.

Screen Shot 2014-06-15 at 2.57.07 pm

The film (through its editing) was intended to achieve Riefenstahl two main goals: “the glorification of the Nazi Party and the deification of Adolf Hitler”. The camera work is what is most appealing however, through the sweeping panning shots the audience is left to feel a sense of progression or journey through out the event.

Screen Shot 2014-06-15 at 3.10.01 pm

The long triumphant music, swells the audience through a ‘feel good mood’ as we are being persuaded in the process, to side with Hitler through his life event of propaganda and portrayal of Germany and the German people. From capturing working men, siding with the Nazi shoulders, challenges the audience of today as from knowing about the event, this is unusual. However at this time several German parties took place were the Germans could rejoice and have fun. Not knowing about the truth of Hitler, the audience at the time would view this as a visual presentation of a great man who shares the same beliefs as the public, which is what most politics demonstrate then go against their word, just so that they can get into parliament, just what Hitler did, however it was demonstrated though visual posters and constant advertisement.


Summaries from

  1. A legendary propaganda/documentary of the Third Reich’s 1934 Nuremberg Party Rally. Featuring a cast of thousands as well as, of course, Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels, Hess, Goering and other top party officials.

            – Written by Dawn M. Barclift

  1. Triumph of the Will was commissioned by Hitler in 1934 and directed by Leni Riefenstahl, and covers the events of the Sixth Nuremberg Party Congress. The original intention was to document the early days of the NSDAP, so future generations could look back and see how the Third Reich began. In reality, Triumph of the Will shows historians how the Nazi state drew in the masses through propaganda and also how Adolf Hitler had a unique and terrifying ability to entice crowds to his beliefs by the very power of his words.

– Written by Anthony Hughes

  1. This is a documentary of a three day gathering of the Nazi Party faithful in Nuremberg, Germany, in 1934. The film can be subdivided into a number of sequences documenting arrivals, parades, preparations and speeches. Only one scene the review of the German cavalry actually involved the German military. Characteristic of all the sequences are beautifully composed shots of Nazi flags and symbols, and of faces of enraptured people. Except during the speeches, there is martial music playing by a military band.

    [1] An airplane is flying through beautiful clouds, then over the city of Nuremberg, and lands at the airport. Nazi party bigwigs descend, finally Adolf Hitler, and there is a welcoming ceremony.

    [2] Adolf Hitler enters the city, standing in an open four door Mercedes Benz in a motorcade. Adoring crowds wave and give the Nazi salute, including children, women, uniformed soldiers. A woman hands him a bouquet of flowers while holding up a small child in her other arm. Flags with swastikas are flying or hanging on every street.

    [3] At a rally in a large indoor venue, the party faithful members hear speeches by a dozen party bigwigs. Only a couple of sound bytes from each are shown, ending with a brief speech by Hitler.

    [4] Night falls on the city of Nuremberg. There are parades through the old streets by small groups carrying torches. Patriotic songs are sung.

    [5] Dawn over the city. Aerial views of the quiet streets.

    [6] At an enormous campground of tents, young adult men are getting up, washing in communal basins. Breakfast is being prepared in enormous vats. They eat and sing and play good natured games, with lots of smiles all around.

    [7] At the enormous stadium built by the Nazis in Nuremberg, the crowds march in and sit and wait for a speech by Hitler.

    [8] There is a youth rally at another enormous venue, with another speech by Hitler.

    [9] Military parades follow. In fields outside the city, motorised and cavalry troops display their equipment in marches and advances. Then various military groups each in a different uniform march through the old part of the city, past the Cathedral. In a square next to the Cathedral Hitler reviews the marching groups.

    [10] Speech by Hitler to military groups.

    [11] Night falls again, there are fireworks and parades by torch bearing groups.

    [12] In another motorcade, Hitler is hailed by the populace. Many observe from windows opening onto the motorcade route. Others hail him after having climbed onto any high place, even up lamp posts.

    [13] In the same venue of the first speeches, Hitler gives a speech closing the proceedings. This speech, just like all the others documented, have no programs or explanations but are designed to create enthusiasm for a new Germany, united, that can do extraordinary things, that can solve problems and build for a better future, where the ordinary worker is treated with dignity, and all are motivated by patriotic love for the German nation.

Written by fbmorinigo and Shimon-Haber





By trentwhitworth