Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 3, No. 2, 2004

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Robert J. Lewis
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Bernard Dube
Phil Nixon
Mark Goldfarb
Robert Rotondo
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Emanuel Pordes
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Marissa Consiglieri de Chackal
Mady Bourdage
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Tariq Ali
Michael Albert
Rochelle Gurstein


reviewed by

This review is published with the permission of Eye Weekly.



A witty and slickly packaged Canadian documentary on the dominant institution of our age and its deleterious impact on global society, The Corporation was a major audience favourite at the Toronto and Vancouver film festivals in 2003. The filmmaking team of Jennifer Abbott, Joel Bakan and Manufacturing Consent co-director Mark Achbar has created a crowd-pleaser for the No-WTO set, a cinematic adjunct to the media-savvy muckraking of Harper'sor Adbusters. As such, The Corporation may not do much to challenge the prejudices of the viewers who are sure to make it a perennial on the nation's rep-theatre circuit, but it is a vital piece of agitprop.

Pruned down from an almost three-hour running time, this version of The Corporation feels much tighter than the one that debuted last fall. The question at the heart of the film remains the same: if a corporation is a ‘person’ in the eyes of the law, what kind of person is it? According to the diagnostic criteria used by actual psychologists, the answer is a psychopath. After all, this is a person who has few qualms about poisoning the environment, exhausting the earth's resources, disregarding human rights and breaking the law in order to make a buck.Dick Cheney In order to plumb the depths of the corporate mindset, the filmmakers elicit comments from familiar talking heads (Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein) and bash familiar targets (Nike, The Gap, Monsanto). More compelling are the testimonials of people like Ray Anderson, a thoughtful CEO who's reducing the environmental impact of his carpet manufacturer, and the activists who successfully prevented an American company from controlling Bolivia's water.

Bill GatesWhile The Corporation's humongous trove of information and commentary is likely to overwhelm less committed viewers, the filmmakers make sure we understand just how powerful corporations have become, the influence they exercise over our lives and how they could be different in the future. Despite its occasional glibness and lack of impartiality, this is not a feel-bad movie that relies more on invective than facts. Instead, it explores its subject with the same ruthless efficiency Shell uses to extract oil from the Niger delta.

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