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CORPORATION, THE (director: Jennifer Abbott/Mark Achbar; screenwriters: Joel Bakan/based on Mr. Bakan’s book “The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power,” with narration written by Harold Crooks and Mr. Achbar; editor: Jennifer Abbott; music: Leonard J. Paul; Runtime: 145; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Mark Achbar/Bart Simpson; Zeitgeist Films; 2003)
“One of those necessary films that we have to see for our own health.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott present their well-intentioned rant on the evils of corporations; but, they are unfortunately preaching to the choir. It’s styled as if it were an infomercial, and suffers for being so impersonal and such a dull and long sit (nearly two-and-a-half-hour running time). There’s a cold and heavy-handed sobriety to the psychological checkup it gives to corporations, though I found its politics agreeable. It ably points out the atrocities committed by many big name corporations (from Exxon, Monsanto, G. E., and many more recognizable names) to satisfy their bottom line without giving a darn about the common good of mankind.

It’s one of those necessary films that we have to see for our own health, just like a visit to the dentist office is not for pleasure. The Corporation is a well-organized and very informative no frills documentary that brings forth facts and arguments we should know about the usual way the big corporations do business (it’s not a few rotten apples as the supporters of the corporate world would have us believe). A point is made about how the corporation’s legal eagles used the 19th century’s 14th Amendment, whose purpose was to protect newly freed slaves in their pursuit of happiness, to be declared legally as a person and therefore be protected under that law.

Through various leftist critics interviewed such as Michael Moore, Howard Zinn, and Noam Chomsky, and various representatives from the business world such as a contemplative and soul-searching Ray Anderson, CEO of carpet manufacturer Interface, and, his opposite in intent, the affable but unresponsive Nike CEO Phil Knight. With video presentations, we get more details on how the corporate world in its insatiable appetite to increase profits aggressively attacks our quality of life in such areas as in the environment, the labor force (cheap labor through the use of children), human rights violations, in the field of health (causing unnecessary health risks by introducing harmful chemicals into our daily life), as consumers (where its pointed psychological ad campaign converts the masses to mindless consumers) and by supporting dictators.

The film provides an intelligent argument against anti-globalization, and points out the immoral nature of the corporations that obey the law only if it’s cost-effective or else they duck their moral and ethical responsibilities because the average citizen is either unaware of their pejorative practices or feels impotent to stop them. It leaves room for further discourse on this vital topic and leaves no doubt that things will deteriorate further if safeguards are not put in place to protect us and future generations. The doomsday prediction is, if these warnings are not heeded, that we are headed for a world-wide crash. Whether you believe this or not, the filmmakers have made many salient points and deserve to be listened and responded to.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”