In the unsettling documentary “The Corporation,”
filmmakers Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott attempt to dissect big
business. They assert that though individuals in the system may
work for the greater good, the system itself is so harmful that it
cannot continue to persist unchecked. The film, which begins with a
montage of corporate analysts attempting to excuse recent corporate
scandals as the result of a few bad apples, tries to move past the
tired analogies to a more telling examination of the rise of the
modern corporate system.

Film Reviews
They always insist on taking our picture while we are looking directly into the sun.

The film is segmented, starting with a history of the
corporation’s manipulation of the 14th Amendment to acquire
the same legal status as an individual to a step-by-step
psychoanalytic dissection of its behavior. The eventual conclusion
is that if the corporation were a human being, then it would be
classified as a psychopath.

A sequence of case studies highlights how corporations
manipulate the media and attempt to commodify every aspect of life,
even rainwater. Yet here is where the film begins to lose focus.
The case studies are worthy of their own documentaries, but they
are so engaging that they take away from the main thesis. The
filmmakers seem to want to include every bit of evidence they can
find without realizing it makes their case too far-reaching and
ultimately incoherent.

The actual look of the film, however, is quite appropriate. With
it’s talking-head interviews, interlaced with biting clips,
the film makes difficult concepts visual, such as when several
professors try to explain externalities and it cuts to a clip of a
pie fight where a bystander gets hit. The montages and slick shots
almost have a commercial feel to them, and as for shock value, the
film squanders no opportunity, including a choice testimony of a
stockbroker’s honest account of his thoughts on 9/11, when
the first thing that entered his mind was, “how much is gold
going for?”

In the end, the film is certainly thought-provoking, yet, some
of the case studies weigh down the main argument with innumerable
details. Thus, “The Corporation” just misses the
mark— it’s a good film, but too meandering to be great.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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