Another scene staged in Bowling for Columbine is the illustration of the story being told of a couple of hunters who dressed up a dog in hunting clothes, gave him a gun, and then accidentally got shot by it.
There are some trivial, rather silly details in the scene that arise from simple shoddy filmmaking. The scene shows a dog with gun on it’s back & a wounded hunter lying on the ground. We’re supposed to think we’re watching video from the accident, but several mistakes make this pretty obviously not true.
1. The dog is calmly moving around — which it wouldn’t be if a hunting rifle had just gone off over his head and blown his eardrums in.
2. The Hunter, who was in fact shot in the leg, is lying there quietly – dare I say ‘dead looking.’ (I’m reminded of the scene towards the end of Trainspotting where a kitten innocently plays around a dead character).
3. Why would someone just be standing there filming this? They would no doubt be panicking to get help or help their wounded comrade in some kind of frenzy — not calmly video taping the whole thing.
So the scene is staged. So what. The emphasis is on truth here – you’re allowed to reenact things in documentaries – what’s the big deal?
Well, what’s more important is the fact that in reality, the Darwin Award winning hunters had tried to take a photo with a still camera, and did not have video (1). So in fact – this is no reenactment…but a fabrication. Moore films the scene with a shaky hand held cam to create the illusion of a home movie and even goes as far as to put digits in the (viewers) right-hand top and bottom of the screen as if you are looking through a home movie camera live (another subliminal trick that makes you think this is a real home movie).
Moore is trying to make you think that this is footage from a home video recording of the actual event, when it is really quite fictitious (like on Unsolved Mysteries & America’s Most Wanted – only they tell you what you’re seeing has been set up).
Not a huge damnation of the entire film by far, but information you the viewer should know when believing Michael Moore’s statements of “liking non-fiction while living in fictitious times” and accepting Bowling for Columbine as an honest depiction of fact and truth telling documentary, as it shows the degree to which he goes to try and deceive his viewer.