2008 - United States - 93 minutes
Director - Morgan Spurlock
Writer - Jeremy Chilnick and Morgan Spurlock
My Rating - 4 of 5 Stars
Morgan Spurlock is a documentary filmmaker a bit different from the norm. He came to fame with his 2004 documentary, Super Size Me. In Where in the World…, he takes on the topic of terrorism. His style is off-putting to those who think a documentary should be serious and to the point. This film is a combination of MTV, video games, cartoons, and serious journalism. It is very appealing, never dry, and ultimately insightful.
He begins by stating that he is about to become a father, and that he wants the world to be safe for his child. Therefore, he goes looking for Bin Laden in order to secure the end of terrorism. It is obvious he is not seriously expecting to find his prey, but it’s an entertaining premise.
Spurlock travels through Africa, the Middle East, and Asia in his search for Bin Laden. Of course his real goal is to interview the people in these countries to get their opinions of Bin Laden and the United States.
In Egypt, he meets with a number of citizens who tell him that they are suffering not because of Bin Laden, but because the United States is supporting Mubarak who is supposedly a freely elected leader but is, indeed, a dictator. From this, Spurlock tangents to a cartoon detailing the history of US support for dictators starting with Franklin D. Roosevelt. This history of US complicity is pretty powerful even though it is in the form of a cartoon. Spurlock brings the viewer to the conclusion that most everyday Egyptians like the people of the United States, but all everyday Egyptians hate the United States government because it supports a dictator in disguise who has made their lives very hard.
Spurlock’s movements are probably the most restricted in Saudi Arabia. He interviews a number of people but all seem very restrictive leading him to finally expound upon a government so tied in with religion that it suffocates the people with dogma.
Not being totally politically savvy, his encounters in Palestine were probably the most revealing to me. The people interviewed pretty much hate Bin Laden and terrorists in general mainly because they use the Israeli/Palestinian conflict as an excuse for their heinous acts. It goes without saying that the Palestinians hate the governments of Israel and the United States for the occupation of their lands.
While in Palestine, Spurlock interviews an Israeli woman living in one of the occupied settlements. She actually states that the Israelis deserve to live there because the land was given to them by God - not exactly an enlightened viewpoint.
The country least hospitable to Spurlock was Israel. He shows situations in which he was actually physically attacked. But in Israel is where he probably had his most profound encounter. In speaking with an Israeli scholar, the scholar states that everyone in Israel knows that they must leave the occupied territories, and that when they do, there will be peace. He ponders how many years and how many deaths will take place until that inevitable solution is reached.
The search is ended - without success of course - in Afghanistan and then Pakistan. These are some of the scariest moments for the filmmakers because there is great danger in both of those countries. As the world knows, the conditions for average citizens in Afghanistan have gotten much worse since the invasion and occupation by the United States. Here the viewer is offered another sobering illustration of the evils of our foreign policy.
Even though this documentary might be considered frivolous and light, it gives some interesting insights into the normal citizens of these countries so in the news and the minds of the citizens of the United States. Spurlock certainly leads the viewer to the conclusions he has so skillfully created which might be best summed up by an old man speaking to the filmmaker, “F**k you, f**k Bin Laden, and f**k the United States.”
August 30, 2008