This is the age of mega-corporations. Corporations richer than some countries, wielding enormous influence over our world. With their power they can and do shape policies that affect our environment and in the end the way our societies function. How did these corporations become so powerful? Why are so many people protesting their rising clout if, as many often claim, they create jobs, increase transparency, efficiency and generate more wealth for a region? Why are corporations caught in the middle of so many scandals, especially in recent years?
These are some of the questions the documentary, ‘The Corporation’ directed by Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott, seeks to look at and answer. It is a huge task to subject as amorphous an entity as a corporation to such close scrutiny and succeed. They do it with style and depth but without sacrificing entertainment values. One innovative tool they use is to treat the corporation as a living entity/person and subject it to basic psychological testing. They look at the myriad ways corporations have tried to take over our environment without giving a damn for the consequences. They look at the lack of ethical values at the core of corporate functioning. They look at the way a corporation is only bothered with the bottom line and not how its actions affect the world around it. And they come to a not so surprising conclusion in hindsight. That the corporation exhibits almost all the classic symptoms of a psychopath.
Interspersed between these analyzes are interviews with various prominent figures on both sides of the fence. From Noam Chomsky to our very own Vandana Shiva, from Michael Moore to Naomi Klein, from the former CEO of Shell to a corporate spy, they talk about their experiences and ideas, on how they view the corporate world and whether the corporations do good or bad. The interviews are fascinating, informative and in the end chilling as we hear one after the other accounts of how carelessly corporations, more often than not, have disregarded or bent the laws for their convenience.
The documentary is slick and very well made but not facetious. I especially liked the cold and almost machine like voice of the narrator. Her voice enhanced the chilling tone of the documentary. The background music is electronic, modern and catchy but fits the subject matter and narration very well.
The film deals with a serious and depressing topic but by including heart-warming stories of people, who have stood up, fought and won significant victories over the corporations the filmmakers end the film on a note of hope. These protesters have achieved that by starting non-violent grass roots movements which brought to light the consequences of the blind greed of the corporate world. And it is that sliver of hope that lets us leave the documentary without being unduly depressed. That there are ways to control and monitor these huge conglomerates that do not care what happens to the world around them as long as their bottom line is in the green. I think this should be required viewing at every school and college in the world. It should be seen widely especially in India where everyone seems to be embracing globalization without any in depth and serious debate on the consequences of implementing such corporate friendly policies on our society and environment. Very highly recommended.