Irish Film Institute -The Corporation

The Corporation

Director: Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott

Canada| 2003. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 144 mins.

Filmed in tandem with Joel Bakan’s book, The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Pro?t and Power, this earnest yet partisan documentary considers the history and malign in?uence of ?rms such as Royal Dutch Shell, Nike, Starbucks and McDonald’s. Originally designed for a single project, the corporation later became the dominant model for American business. In the late 19th century, the 14th Amendment to the Constitution bizarrely de?ned a corporation as a person, granting it generous legal leeway with regard to its business practises and social responsibilities. So the ?lmmakers pose the question, ‘What kind of person is a corporation?’ Answer: a psychopath with no moral or social conscience. And with only one monomaniacal purpose, the creation of pro?t.
Unaccountable to elected governments, notorious for exploiting workers in developing countries, and guilty of environmental pollution, these corporations add insult to injury by cynically manufacturing demand for their own consumer products through ever more sophisticated advertising. Complacent heads of pharmaceutical giants such as P?zer (makers of Viagra) condemn themselves out of their own mouths, while veteran radical Naom Chomsky, No Logo author Naomi Klein and documentary ?lmmaker Michael Moore offer a critical counterbalance to the weasel words of the ‘suits’.
Described as ‘Fahrenheit 9/11 for people who think’, directors Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott’s rather wordy ?lm never quite ?nds the visual style to complement its polemical points. Even so, its attacks on capitalist villains such as genetic manipulators Monsanto are well argued. And it’s not all doom and gloom. Witness the stirring victory won by the people of Bolivia, who resisted their government’s attempt to privatise its water supply; or the Damascene conversion of the carpet maker who has now embraced ecologically sustainable methods of manufacture.

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