The Corporation is a Canadian documentary that was directed by Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott. It was inspired by the book The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power which was written by Joel Bakan. The documentary focuses on the nature of corporations and how they’ve negatively impacted their surroundings. This negative impact is explored through comparing corporations, a company or group of people authorized to act as a single entity (legally a person) and recognized as such in law, to psychopaths. Psychopaths (in the media) are usually stereotypically portrayed as people who lack the ability to empathize and form healthy loving relationships with others. These two definitions lead into how corporations have continued to pollute the Earth without a second thought about anything but its own benefit. The Corporation’s production company was Big Picture Media Corporation and the documentary was first released in 2003 (Canada) by Film West Associates.
This film is an expository documentary because it utilizes authoritative voice-overs and titles to directly persuade viewers that corporations are toxic. Although the entire film is an overall theme of comparing corporations to psychopaths, the documentary structurally breaks up into specific categories that focus on not only the negative environmental effects but the negative effect it has on animals and humans. The footage shown is a montage of archived footage, old commercials, and the interviews of 40 people. The interviews include “CEOs and top-level executives from a range of industries: oil, pharmaceutical, computer, tire, manufacturing, public relations, branding, advertising and undercover marketing; in addition, a Nobel-prize winning economist, the first management guru, a corporate spy, and a range of academics, critics, historians and thinkers are also interviewed” (About the film). Since the production and post-production team did a good job of breaking up concepts and explaining them with visual examples, this documentary is very educational.
The Corporation defines all specific terms and ideas before going into depth about them while using historical content to provide background information. Some of the visuals used were very graphic, such as the mutated animals and severely deformed children. Although these images are hard to look at and process, it forces the consumer to realize how grave the current situation surrounding corporations is. The documentary also shows how helpless people feel against corporations since corporations are “gigantic mortifying, money-hungry” beings that are internationally stronger than even a country’s government.
This was done by interviewing people that are, or used to be, in corporations. One clip that is incredibly powerful shows people protesting in front of a man’s house because he was part of a corporation. The man and his wife provided them with simple hospitality on the lawn as they both listened to the protestors’ concerns. Through this discussion both parties realized that they had the same exact fears, but the man didn’t know what he could do about it as an individual. Since corporations are legally bound to put the “bottom line” first, even the individuals inside the corporations feel powerless to the system. Although this may seem discouraging at first it has a significant amount of potential to be inspirational once the consumer looks past the surface.
If people both inside and outside of corporations think that corporations are toxic then they can band together and change the system. At the end of the day, corporations are only as strong as the silence of the people among them. As soon as people start to actually speak up and realize that they’re not the only ones concerned then they can destroy corporations. At the end of the day, even if a corporation is legally a person, it’s not; it’s a concept, a concept that can be redesigned. Since the film shows the concern on both sides it took one step towards uniting people with common cause.
Written By Crystal Ledbetter
Official trailer for The Corporation (2003):