The Corporation (2003)

(In theaters, July 2004) The real revelation here is not how corporations are amoral entities whose ethical concerns are non-existent in light of shareholder profits; we knew that, and several of the examples used by the filmmakers to demonstrate their thesis are also quite widely known. No, the real pleasure and interest of The Corporation is in how captivating one can weave talking heads, dramatizations, stock footage and editorial cinematography in one captivating package. It’s nearly two and a half hours long, but it’s all good and fascinating from the beginning to the end. Interviews from an impressive variety of guests (from a Fraser institute representative to Michael Moore, Naomi Klein and Noam Chomsky) are cleverly integrated in a strong structure. Eerie narration (echoing a “future viewpoint” reminiscent of The Animatrix‘s “Second Renaissance”) and original computer-generated sequences provide the framework of the piece, which -like many recent documentaries- doesn’t even try to provide a balanced viewpoint. This is a thesis, not an attempt at a definitive study. One thing for sure; this is brainy entertainment, the kind of intellectual material that is surprising to see in theatres. No wonder if it’s a film adaptation of Joel Bakan’s eponymous non-fiction book. A few of the stories told here are well-worth pursuing, including the tale of an attempted 1933 coup to overthrow… the American government (Search for “Smedley Butler” for more details). More modern examples of corporate malfeasance are even worse, from attempts to privatize rainwater, to modern-day advertising, to the ruling stating that televised news don’t necessarily have to be truthful. Despite occasional missteps (such as the pretty portrait of anti-globalization forces), it all adds up to a convincing argument, one that is sure to become even more important over the next few years as the divide between civil rights and corporate profits will become even more obvious.

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