Subject Material

Bowling for Columbine

Published: 02.05.2011, Updated: 04.03.2017
  • Embed
  • Easy Reader
  • Listen
  • Print

One of the 13 doves released for the 13 victims of the massacre at Columbine High School is released at the conclusion of a memoOne of the 13 doves released for the 13 victims of the massacre at Columbine High School is released at the conclusion of a memorial service to mark the 10th anniversary of the killings in the southwest Denver suburb of Littleton, Colo., on Monday, April 20, 2009. Why does America have a love/hate relationship with guns? Why is there so much violence and crime in a prospering and stable country like the US? Why does the Constitution still allow us to bear arms when 11,000 people a year die because of them? What makes a student go into school and massacre classmates? These are just a few of the questions that Michael Moore opens up in his award-winning documentary from 2002, Bowling for Columbine.

The Massacres

The title of the film refers to the first high school massacre in America, Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999. Two students killed 12 students, one teacher and wounded many others. The entire country watched in disbelief and shock as the events unfolded on their televisions and radios.

Moore Asks Why

Michael Moore dared to look for the answers to questions that many were afraid to even ask. He interviews students, parents, politicians, National Rifle Association members, corporations and more, trying desperately to make sense out of the blood that falls from victims of gun-related deaths, daily in America. He explores American culture, history and civil rights and even questions the cherished American Constitution.

Critics

Many people applauded him for bringing the issue of gun control and violence out to the American public, while others criticized him for stretching the truth and misrepresentation. Whether supporter or critic, most will admit that this film sent out a “wake-up call” to most of America.

Watch the trailer and answer the comprehension questions below.

 

Tasks and Activities

Comprehension (Trailer)

  1. What is a "whistle blower"?
  2. What type of bank account was Micheal Moore asking to open?
  3. What law did the town of Virginia in Utah pass?
  4. What comparison does he try to make between the production of missiles and the killings at Columbine High School?
  5. Charlton Heston raises a rifle in the air in front of a crowd of people and states: "from my cold dead hands". What do you think he means? Who is he representing? And what is Michael's comment on this?
  6. What adjectives did critics use to describe this film? Can you add your own adjectives to describe the trailer?
  7. What is the double meaning in: "this film will have you up in arms" ?

 

Discussion

  1. The second amendment in the Bill of Rights in the US Constitution states people have "the right to keep and bear arms". Do you think Americans should have this right when there is so much gun violence in society today?
  2. What do you believe are the causes related to gun violence? Who might you blame? (media: television, Hollywood films, the US government, parents, gang members, the person who pulls the trigger, gun owners, gun manufacturers..)
  3. How do you think gun violence can be controlled, lessened or stopped?

Role-Play

The Right to Bear Arms - Roleplay 

 

Further Reading (Advanced)

The Right to Bear Arms 

 

Film Resources

Bowling for Columbine Study Guide (Michael Moore)