Parents' Guide to

We Are Many

By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Activism docu may spark outrage more than inspiration.

Movie NR 2020 104 minutes
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Check your goals before watching this documentary: For young political organizers, it may be inspiring, but for outraged youth trying to find their voice, it may be deflating. Yes, nearly 30 million people across all of the world's continents marched to show their opposition to the United States and Britain invading Iraq, recognizing the unwarranted death and chaos that the Iraqi people would absorb. But as history knows, President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair ignored the protestors' voices, and the ensuing war created a quagmire of unintended consequences. So any teens who are just getting ready to hop on the activism trail may find the movie a bit discourating.

All of that said, the message of We Are Many -- that a few regular people could organize something of such magnitude -- is earth-shattering. The protests created a passion for activism among many influential people who continue to change the world. And those people who did step out were proven right. Those are some of the threads in the pretty bow the filmmakers put on the protest to show it as a success; others are a stretch. The movie points to the United States and Britain consequently opting to stay out of the Syrian war as a direct result of the 2003 marches, but that's an apples-to-oranges situation. And the film's biggest drawback is that it buries a bombshell: A U.S. Defense Department bigwig and the lead UN weapons inspector at the time both say that the "weapons of mass destruction" ploy was intentionally cooked up. They say it was a deliberate lie that was knowingly pushed by top brass in the Bush administration. This revealing information is somewhat brushed over to keep the focus on the protest, but it's hard to focus on anything that's said after that admission is made. Add to that the fact that this documentary was initially released in 2014 and the powerful string-pullers in question still faced no consequences, and this film could just as easily extinguish the spark of activism as light it.

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