Directed by Jennifer Abbot and Mark Achbar
Written by Joel Bakan and Harold Crooks
Produced by Mark Achbar and Bart Simpson
Featuring Jane Akre, Ray Anderson, Baude Barlow,
Chris Barrett, Noam Chomsky, Peter Drucker, Samuel
Epstein, Milton Friedman, Naomi Klein, Susan E. Linn,
Luke McCabe, Mikela J. Mikael, Robert Monks, Michael
Moore, Vandana Shiva and Steve Wilson
(out of four)
“It’s no trick to make a lot of money,
if what you want to do is make a lot of money”
s trade scandals and
worldwide protests continue
to cast a negative light on the moneymaking entities
called corporations, an equal number of free-trade
proponents and high-dollar lawyers work to defend
the entities and inspire support of their enterprises
among the people of the world. “The Corporation” breaks
down the structure and perceived obligations of the
business model that has taken over the world with
little respect for its people.
Like most opinionated political documentaries, the
movie is designed to spark action in the hearts of
those who see it., but is also a detailed study.
The film runs about two and a half hours as it studies
the history and emergence of the corporation, with
plenty of talking-head interviews with black backgrounds
featuring intellectuals like Noam Chomsky and Naomi
Klein. While this method risks growing tiresome in
such a long documentary, directors Jennifer Abbot
and Mark Achbar and writers Joel Bakan and Harold
Crooks provide a great deal of creativity and humor.
Among the archival footage are old industrial and
educational films that reflect quaint ideals on the
free market and some specially pieces to illustrate
concepts like branding.
The most interesting insights come from the court
rulings that established that a corporation has all
the rights of an individual, yet doesn’t face
any of the responsibility. An FBI profiler describes
the checklist of psychopathic behavior and the filmmakers
match it to that of a corporation’s behavior,
which comes from the single obligation of making
more money for its shareholders.
The documentary provides an alternative to the corporate
norm in the form of Ray Anderson, CEO of commercial
carpet giant Interface, who realized that corporations
owe the people their consideration of their output’s
impact on the environment and didn’t want to
be part of the problem.
“The Corporation” puts a face on the
people of less earth-friendly corporations than Anderson’s,
arguing that the people aren’t bad, the corporate
structure is. In one episode, a CEO talks to protesters
in his front yard and says that many of their concerns
are the same as his, he just as trouble protecting
the environment while looking out for the shareholders.
Part of the ending is an extended excerpt of the
final sequence of Michael Moore’s “The
Big One,” in which Moore asks Nike CEO Phil
Knight to open a factory in his home town of Flint,
Mich. While it’s an interesting scene and the
filmmakers are using it legally, a more unique ending
could have been fashioned.
The underlying message of the entire film is that
the corporate structure creates a shield under which
executives allow things to happen that they would
never allow to happen on their own. A new kind of
corporate restructuring is in order.