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flick pick | The Corporation 2003
Directed by: Jennifer Abbot, Mark Achbar
Written by: Mark Achbar, Joel Bakan, Harold Crooks
Language: English
Look for it at the video store under: documentary
Watch it when you’re in the mood for something:  serious, true?!?
The critic says: / 5 the rating system explained
Fun factor: ½/5 

Plot synopsis Corporations invade so much of our day-to-day lives that it's hard to imagine a time before the concept of the modern corporation even existed. But the birth of today's powerful corporations, as we learn in the Canadian documentary The Corporation, is a relatively recent one in history. And a particularly strange birth it was at that. Up until the early to mid 1800s, corporations had very specific rules they had to follow; their charters were time-limited, and their owners were liable for any harm the corporations might inflict on the public good. But in the late 1800s, that all changed when a court ruling made bizarre use of the Fourteen Amendment -- for those who have forgotten their tenth grade U.S. History lessons, that would be the one that was created to guarantee the rights of freed slaves -- to establish a corporation as a "person," separate from the individual owners of the corporation and with all the rights of a citizen of the United States. Thus the corporate beast was born, enjoying all the privileges of constitutional personhood but lacking any actual physical body that could be held accountable for transgressions it might commit. Imagine a "person" whose motives are dictated only by profit and self-interest, a person with no compassion or human empathy, no sense of guilt. What you get, in essence, is a complete psychopath. Drawing upon this idea of the corporation as psychopath, The Corporation examines the history and impact of this institution that has come to dominant the world, interviewing everyone from CEOs to third-world sweatshop workers, cultural critics to economists, activists to corporate spies, in an effort to understand how corporations have become as powerful and as corrupt an influence on society as they have.

Review Forget Michael Moore's films: if you want to see a documentary that really gets you thinking about what's wrong with the current state of the world, you have to see Jennifer Abbot and Mark Achbar's The Corporation. It would have been easy to make a cynical, mocking propagandist diatribe against the evil ways in which today's corporate behemoths destroy the environment, exploit the poor, manipulate the media and the government and the consumer, all for the sake of their bottom lines. But the filmmakers do something much more interesting and ambitious with their subject matter: they make a sincere effort to provide a fair, balanced and in-depth look at why corporations act in the way that they do, jam-packing the film with interviews from people representing an amazingly diverse range of perspectives. Yes, we get prominent lefties like the incredibly articulate Noam Chomsky, as well as the aforementioned Mr. Moore. But corporate players have their voice too. And contrary to what you might expect, the CEOs aren't even presented as complete bad guys; one of the film's most compelling interviewees, in fact, is Ray Anderson, head of a giant carpet manufacturer, who read a book that made him realize the terrible harm his very successful company was doing to the environment, and made the commitment to change company practices so that they could operate in an environmentally sustainable manner. Yes, it's hard to watch The Corporation and not get yourself riled up over the way corporations have come to run the world, but ultimately, this clever, fascinating and yes, even entertaining movie suggests that there is hope for the future, and that getting ourselves educated just might be the key. Which is why everyone should go out and rent this movie, whether you're a raging anti-capitalist or a cog in the corporate machine. —reviewed by Yee-Fan Sun

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