April 20, 1999 – two teenagers of Columbine high school from the small town of Littleton shot 12 classmates and 1 teacher and then turned the guns onto themselves. That morning a few hours before the tragedy they had played skittles in the nearest bowling with nothing to care about. The nation got a bit of shock intensified by the mass media hysteria. In his documentary Michael Moore makes an attempt to understand what happened and tries to find answers to the #1 question – why did it happen? He meets quite a number of people – parents of the dead guys, activists of the National Rifle Association, Marilyn Manson, school teachers, the Lockheed company management, prosecutors, sociologists, policemen and so on. The answer can only be found if you look at the problem from different points of view.
The tragedy itself is described with terrific details: records of school video cameras, talks with a 911 operator, and girls in hysterics. But for Michael Moore the Littleton incident is still an occasion, a terrible metaphor. Bowling for Columbine takes a wider perspective.
At first sight, the target of Moore’s accusations is the National Rifle Association and American media. After September 11, 2001 anxious frames of minds of American people have intensified, which has led to a mass buy-up of ammunition, firearms and burglar alarms. But according to Moore it’s not the main point. Bowling for Columbine is not about firearms or control over them. It’s about an American way of thinking, American ethics and what they are in reality. The Columbine massacre is just a mirror image of deeper processes in public consciousness that take place in the U.S. today. When everybody stands for themselves, it’s easier to find another lightning rod in the person of bin Laden, Hussein, Castro and others.
Moore looks like a simpleton in the film: he asks naïve questions: do you have a gun? – yes – have you ever been attacked? – no – then why do you need a gun? – a puzzling silence…...