- The Corporation
name = The Corporation
caption = Promotional poster for "The Corporation"
producer = Mark Achbar
Joel Bakan Harold Crooks Mark Achbar
Mikela J. Mikael
Leonard J. Paul
cinematography = Mark Achbar
Rolf Cutts Jeff Koffman Kirk Tougas
editing = Jennifer Abbott
Big Picture Media Corporation
released = flagicon|Canada September 9, 2003
flagicon|USA June 4, 2004
runtime = 145 min.
language = English
website = http://www.thecorporation.com/
amg_id = 1:293083
imdb_id = 0379225
"The Corporation" is a 2003 Canadian
documentary filmcritical of the modern-day corporation, considering it as a class of personand evaluating its behaviour towards society and the world at large as a psychologist might evaluate an ordinary person. This is explored through specific examples.
The film was written by
Joel Bakan, and co-directed by Mark Achbarand Jennifer Abbott. The documentary has been displayed worldwide, on TV and is also available on DVD. Bakan wrote the book, "The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power" (ISBN 0-74324-744-2), during the filming of the documentary.
The film charts the development of the corporation as a legal entity from its origins as an institution chartered by governments to carry out specific public functions, to the rise of the vast modern institutions entitled to some of the legal rights of a person. One central theme of the documentary is an attempt to assess the "personality" of the corporate "person" by using diagnostic criteria from the DSM-IV; Robert Hare, a
University of British ColumbiaPsychology Professor and FBI consultant, compares the profile of the modern, profit-driven corporation to that of a clinically-diagnosed psychopath. The film focuses mostly on corporations in North America, especially in the United States.
The film is composed of several vignettes examining and critiquing corporate practices, and drawing parallels between examples of corporate malfeasance and the DSM-IV's symptoms of psychopathy, i.e. callous unconcern for the feelings of others, incapacity to maintain enduring relationships, reckless disregard for the safety of others, deceitfulness (repeated lying to and deceiving of others for profit), incapacity to experience guilt, and failure to conform to the social norms with respect to lawful behaviors.
Topics addressed include the
Business Plot, where in 1933, the popular General Smedley Butlerexposed a corporate plot against then U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt; the tragedy of the commons; Dwight D. Eisenhower's warning people to beware of the rising military-industrial complex; economic externalities; suppression of an investigative news story about Bovine Growth Hormoneon a Fox News Channelaffiliate television station; the role of IBMin the Nazi holocaust; the Cochabamba protests of 2000brought on by the privatizationof Bolivia's municipal water supplyby the Bechtel Corporation; and in general themes of corporate social responsibility, the notion of limited liability, the corporation as a psychopath, and the corporation as a person.
Jane Akre, investigative reporter, fired by TV station WTVT
Ray Anderson, CEO, Interface Inc., world’s largest commercial carpet manufacturer
Joe Badaracco, Prof. of Business Ethics, Harvard Business School
Maude Barlow, chairperson, Council of Canadians
Mark BarryCompetitive intelligence professional
Elaine Bernard, director, Harvard Business School Labor Program
Edwin Black, author, "IBM and the Holocaust"
Carlton Brown, commodities broker
Noam Chomsky, professor, M.I.T.
Chris Barrett & Luke Mccabe, "Corporately-sponsored" students
Peter Drucker, management guru
Dr. Samuel Epstein, Emeritus Professor of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, U. of Illinois
Andrea Finger, spokesperson, Disney-built town of Celebration
Milton Friedman, Nobel Prize-winning economist
Sam Gibara, chairman and former CEO, Goodyear Tire
Richard Grossman, co-founder, Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy
Dr. Robert Hare, Ph.D., psychologist and FBI psychopath consultant
Lucy Hughes, vice president, Initiative Media
Ira Jackson, director, Center for Business & Government, Kennedy School, Harvard
Charles Kernaghan, director, National Labor Committee
Robert Keyes, president and CEO, Canadian Council for International Business
Mark Kingwell, philosopher, cultural critic, author
Naomi Klein, author, " No Logo"
Tom Kline, vice president, Pfizer Inc., world’s largest pharmaceutical corporation
Chris Komisarjevsky, CEO, Burson Marsteller Worldwide
Dr. Susan Linn, Prof. of Psychiatry, Baker Children’s Center, Harvard
Robert Monks, corporate governance adviser and shareholder activist
Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, former chairman, Royal Dutch Shell
Michael Moore, author, filmmaker
Oscar Olivera, leader, Coalition in Defense of Water and Life
Jonathon Ressler, CEO, Big Fat Inc., undercover marketing specialist
Jeremy Rifkin, president, Foundation on Economic Trends
Dr. Vandana Shiva, physicist, ecologist, feminist and seed activist
Clay Timon, CEO, Landor and Associates, global branding specialists
Michael Walker, executive director, Fraser Institute
Robert Weissman, editor, " Multinational Monitor"
Steve Wilson, investigative reporter, fired by TV station WTVT
Irving Wladawsky-Berger, vice president, Technology and Strategy, IBM Servers
Mary Zepernick, coordinator, Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy
Howard Zinn, historian and author, " A People's History of the United States"
The film also features interviews with prominent corporate critics such as
Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, Michael Moore, Vandana Shiva, Charles Kernaghan, and Howard Zinnas well as opinions from company CEOs such as Ray Anderson (from the Interface carpet & fabric company), the capitalist viewpoints of Peter Druckerand Milton Friedman, and think tanks advocating free markets such as the Fraser Institute. Interviews also feature Dr. Samuel Epsteinwith his involvement in a lawsuit against Monsantofor promoting the use of Posilac, (Monsanto's trade name for recombinant Bovine Somatotropin) to induce more milk production in dairy cattle.
"The corporation is an externalizing machine (moving its operating costs to external organizations and people), in the same way that a shark is a killing machine." - Robert Monks, a corporate governance advisor in the film and former GOP (Republican) candidate for Senate from
Film critics gave the film generally favorable reviews. The review aggregator
Rotten Tomatoesreported that 90% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 104 reviews. [cite web|url=http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/corporation/ |title=The Corporation - Movie Reviews, Trailers, Pictures - Rotten Tomatoes |accessdate=2008-02-05 |publisher= Rotten Tomatoes] Metacriticreported the film had an average score of 73 out of 100, based on 28 reviews. [cite web |url=http://www.metacritic.com/film/titles/corporation |title=Corporation, The (2004): Reviews |accessdate=2008-02-05 |publisher= Metacritic]
"Variety" praised the film's "surprisingly cogent, entertaining, even rabble-rousing indictment of perhaps the most influential institutional model for our era" and its avoidance of "a sense of excessively partisan rhetoric" by deploying a wide range of interviewees and "a bold organizational scheme that lets focus jump around in interconnective, humorous, hit-and-run fashion." [ [http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117922025.html?categoryid=31&cs=1 The Corporation] , review by Dennis Harvey in "Variety", October 1, 2003]
In the "
Chicago Sun-Times", Roger Ebertdescribed the film as "an impassioned polemic, filled with information sure to break up any dinner-table conversation." He felt that "at 145 minutes, it overstays its welcome. The wise documentarian should treat film stock as a non-renewable commodity." [ [http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20040716/REVIEWS/407160302/1023The Corporation] , review by Roger Ebertin the " Chicago Sun-Times", July 16, 2004]
The Economist" review suggests that the idea for an organization as a psychopathicentity originated with Max Weber, in regards to government bureaucracy. Also, the reviewer remarks that the film weighs heavily in favor of public ownershipas a solution to the evils depicted, while failing to acknowledge the magnitude of evils committed by governmentsin the name of public ownership, such as those of the Communist Party in the former USSR. [ [http://www.economist.com/business/displayStory.cfm?story_id=2647328 The lunatic you work for] , review in " The Economist", May 6, 2004]
Maoist Internationalist Movement, in their review criticizes the film for the opposite: for depicting the communist partyin an unfavourable light, while adopting an anarchistapproach favoring direct democracy and worker's councilswithout emphasizing the need for a centralized bureaucracy. The film, in their view "offers no realistic alternative to imperialism." and "it shares some of the strengths and downfalls" of Mark Achbar's film "", which celebrates the life of anarcho-syndicalist, linguist, and activist Noam Chomsky. In their view, "corporate power for profit [is] not the same as megabureaucracy without profit." [cite web |url = http://www.etext.org/Politics/MIM/movies/long/corporation.html |title = "The Corporation" offers no real world solutions or choices |accessdate = 2008-05-27 |publisher = Maoist Internationalist Movement]
The film was nominated for numerous awards, and won the at the
Sundance Film Festival, 2004, along with a Special Jury Award at the Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festivalin 2003 and 2004.
Topically related films
*"Why We Fight"
The American Ruling Class" (2005)
Books mentioned in the film
IBM and the Holocaust"
The Ecology of Commerce"
* [http://www.thecorporation.com/ "The Corporation" official movie website]
* [http://www.airamericaplace.com/archive.php?mode=display&id=280 Interview with Joel Bakan]
* [http://work-magazine.com/articles/issue1/issue_1_everything_about_corporations.html Interview with Bakan and Achbar]
*imdb title|id=0379225|title=The Corporation
*amg movie|id=1:293083|title=The Corporation
*metacritic film|id=corporation|title=The Corporation
*mojo title|id=corporation|title=The Corporation
* [http://www.colorado.edu/studentgroups/libertarians/issues/friedman-soc-resp-business.html "The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits"] - famous article by Nobel economist Milton Friedman (this title appears as a phrase in an out of context quote in "The Corporation" movie)
* [http://www.ragm.com/ "Robert A.G. Monks"] - site of Robert A.G. Monks, shareholder activist and corporate governance advisor, interviewed in the film.
* [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3969792790081230711 Google video, part 1] and [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7365345393244917682 part 2]
* [http://www.archive.org/details/The_Corporation_ Internet Archive: movie and bonus interview in MPEG4, DivX, and streaming]
* [http://torrentfreak.com/sundance-winner-the-corporation-released-for-free-on-bittorrent/ The Filmmakers Official Download Edition] - A torrent, created by the filmmaker, containing the film.
* [http://www.archive.org/details/kpu101 Soundtrack created by Leonard J. Paul] - Leonard J. Paul's entire score for the film is available for free download
* [http://www.theyliewedie.org/ressources/videos/videos-en.php#corporation The Corporation] Direct download (.avi, 700 Mo)
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