Unless you've been locked up in Guantanamo, you've probably noticed political documentaries are back in fashion. Yet there's more to the current wave of man-with-a-camera agitprop than Michael Moore. The Corporation is a case in point. Less sensational than Fahrenheit 9/11 and less gimmicky than Super Size Me, it's a measured dispatch from the frontlines of the anti-globalisation movement that plays like Naomi Klein: The Movie.
Don't get the wrong idea: this Sundance favourite isn't some dusty, dry, academic exercise. Beginning with the corporation's birth in the mid-19th century, it spins into the present to chart the global and environmental impact of the hungry pursuit of cash in the era of companies like Enron and Halliburton. No, this is a restless, radical rabble-rouser.
Literally putting the corporation on the psychiatrist's couch to discover what kind of `person' it is, the filmmakers come to the marrow-chilling conclusion that it's a complete psychopath: self-absorbed, manipulative, two-faced and totally obsessed with serving its own interests at whatever price. Eat your heart out, Gordon Gekko.
Giving equal space to pro and con talking heads, Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott's film avoids becoming a partisan tub-thumper. Instead it lets its personalities do the yakking as Naomi Klein, Noam Chomsky and, yes, Michael Moore line up against pro-globalisation CEOs, economists and historians. That said, The Corporation's catalogue of corporate atrocity is powerful enough to light a fire under even the most politically apathetic viewer.
One suit gleefully pitches his version of a world in which corporations own every cubic metre of land, sea and air. In Bolivia, a multinational tries to privatise rainwater. And who would have thought that Fanta was invented simply so the Coca-Cola Corp could keep trading with Nazi Germany? A rousing call to arms, this is political filmmaking at its most inspiring and impassioned.