Worth A Look: 17.76%
Pretty Bad: 0.93%
Total Crap: 4.67%
7 reviews, 65 user ratings
|Corporation, The (2004)
by Jason Whyte
You know, I feel bad about doing certain things sometimes. I know there's a lot of good in this world, but I know there is a lot of bad in this world as well. I work for a small corporation that I'm sure has its faults if I took the time to look closer into it. I go to my film screenings at theaters that are run by big people in offices in Toronto, who overcharge for butter on the large popcorn. I buy my DVD's from a store that's owned by a group of people whose sole idea is to make money. And when I'm hungry with only a few bucks to spare, I sometimes go to a food place, be it a McDonalds, Subway or Edo's, that is owned by someone, or someone(s), higher up. And I know these are big companies with corruption within.But so what? I make my choices because I want to make them. I simply go to work and make my money, cheerfully ignorant that I could be making more for the amount of work that I do, that a few pockets are getting filled a bit larger because of me. I go to a movie because I want to see that movie, not because a big suit told me to go to that particular film, and that particular theater. I hardly ever visit the concession stand, and the ones I do are normally at the University, which are non-profit, or the theaters that are independent. (I DO know people, however, that feel they must buy cinema food because it isn't a movie experience without it. The corporations know this.) I buy a DVD because I like the film and wish to watch it again, not because an advertisement told me to. And I eat at a place like McDonalds, Subway or Edo's because I'm hungry and the food is good, not because the commercials told me to. I'm not the smartest guy in the world, but I make decisions to keep me happy, and I try to stay away from letting bigger names suck me into buying and consuming things that I don't need. If an alternate option comes along, like a dollar store pizza or University theater, I take it if the product I want is there.
"'A freakin' wake up call to a world that desperately needs one.'"
Films like "The Corporation" speak to us, the person, the action-taker, the consumer, about the choices that we make and why we make them. It is not political side-taking. This film is about a lot more than that, and how it speaks to the viewer is entirely about what ethics and morals he or she chooses to follow. I think it's overall meaning can be appreciated on a universal scale, and can certainly arouse and inspire change even if one thinks they are already doing enough. And this is not a overlong, talking head docu. Combining heavily researched stories, interviews with 40+ participants from scholars to filmmakers, and some vintage clips that have more meaning when placed within today's contexts, directors Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott, with writing by Joel Bakan, give us a look into a society that absolutely needs to get its act together before a few decisions made by rich white guys in suits affect this entire world...and then the ice caps melt.
For 145 minutes (trimmed down from the 168-minute festival version to make the experience a bit tighter), I was blown away by the sheer amount of detail there was here. The film begins on the dawn of the corporations, which started in the 18th century at, of course, the industrial revolution, where the simple image of a pumping water machine at a coal plant speaks volumes about how you can easily send a machine to do a man's job. The story progresses onward to how corporations were involved with major human events throughout the last 200 years, questioning corporation involvements in wars, terrorism and the media.
One of the most brilliant sequences in the film involves a company that invented a chemical that was injected into cows to produce milk faster and cheaper. The chemical might make Uber-milk right away, but it also has side effects of gunking up the digestive systems of the cows; pus and blood therefore makes it into the milk (the same comment was also made in the recent festival film "Go Further" which was about promoting eating organically)...and this is approved by the Food and Drug Administration without human testing (this chemical is outlawed in Canada and the UK because they damn well know it can cause the cancers...whoops, I meant to say "human health issues".) A reporter finds proof of this amazing turn of events and is ready to publish the events, but is quickly shunned by his company, Fox News, for fear that it would disrupt their advertising dollars, even though the CEO of that network owns 21 other networks already. And never mind that milk is so overproduced in the US that the government is even paying farmers to NOT produce it. But it's okay to keep producing the infected, hormoned milk as long as the supplier is well paid. Who cares about those hard-working journalists?
Scene after scene opens up our curiosity and attention to a world that needs to wake itself up. We've heard so many theories and arguments about the events of 9/11 that I'm almost ready to say "Enough already!", but never have I heard such a strike of irony that Carlton Brow, commodities trader, tells us about stock traders whose investment in Gold suddenly skyrocketed because those jets crashed into the building. Or how about a scientific study that PROVES that advertisers of children's products tell the kids that it's okay to nag their parents to buy them the toy! Or how about a sequence where a group of activists, fed up with Shell Corp., find where one of the big wigs lives and try to taunt him out of his house, only to have him not surrender but sit down and discuss the problem. And when Kathie Lee Gifford's clothing line is exposed with employing workers in the East with almost no pay, she quickly apologizes and becomes concerned, but today there are still sweatshops that provide cheap product for American companies (in a twist of irony, a closeup on a tag on one of her garments mentions a portion of the sale of this item will be donated to charity. Do I smell a tax dodge?) This could have been boring, head-bobbing psychobabble, but Achbar and Abbott maintain the momentum fresh, keep us involved, and even throw in a burst of humour...such as the quick scene that shows us that all two teenagers had to do to get college tuition was to don corporate shirts and go onto shows wearing them; the corporations had no problem with the kids doing this and funding their school, and why not? It made them money after all.To call "The Corporation"one of the most important films of 2004 is too slight a praise. This film could be instrumental in causing major change in our society. It must be marketed and distributed well; I hope this has the same effect as Michael Moore's film "Bowling For Columbine", although I admired this one a bit more. Of course, Moore's film is more about gun control and the decisions people make involving this issue, and it only hints at the corporate hidings that are more fully explored here. This film seriously challenges the viewer to confront how he or she acts in society today, taking notice of the actions we make in our daily life. It is an experience that left me shaking and forced me to go outside for a walk to let all of the detail sink over me. Please see this film by whatever means possible. [And please visit http://www.thecorporation.com for more information on this film.]
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=8248&reviewer=350
originally posted: 02/13/04 21:50:08
|OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Vancouver Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Philadelphia Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Sydney Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Sydney Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Seattle Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 San Francisco Film Festival. For more in the 2004 San Francisco Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Brisbane Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Brisbane Film Festival series, click here.
This film is listed in our political documentary series. For more in the Political Documentary series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Minneapolis/St.Paul Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Minneapolis/St.Paul Film Festival series, click here.