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Zeitgeist Video presents
The Corporation (2004)

"A corporation is a person."
- Howard Zinn

Review By: Chuck Aliaga  
Published: April 04, 2005

Stars: Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky
Other Stars: Naomi Klein, Milton Friedman
Director: Mark Achbar, Jennifer Abbott

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (adult language)
Run Time: 02h:23m:54s
Release Date: April 05, 2005
UPC: 795975106535
Genre: documentary

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Feature-length documentary films have grown exponentially in popularity over the last five years. Beginning with the overwhelming critical and box office success for 2002's Bowling For Columbine, the documentary feature, which in the past had been relegated to art houses and film festivals, had finally hit the mainstream. As more and more documentaries were being made, the pinnacle was reached in the summer of 2004, when Fahrenheit 9/11 broke box-office records, grossing over $100 million, while at the same time trying to sway voters for the (then) upcoming Presidential election. These films used tight editing, and the perfect mixture of real-life comedy and tragedy to deliver their message, resulting in the first ever documentary "event" movies.

The Corporation isn't as briskly paced as its recent counterparts, but the scope of the subject matter calls for a longer running time (143 minutes) than Super Size Me, Fahrenheit 9/11, etc. This massive scope proved extremely necessary though, as the film is part diatribe against the overwhelming power of the corporation across the globe, and part college course about the inner-workings of corporations. Audiences weren't taken aback by this scope either, with The Corporation taking in $1.5 million on a mere twenty-some screens (compared to Fahrenheit 9/11, which played on over 2000 screens).

Any opinion you have about the impact and influence that large corporations (Nike, Microsoft, etc.) have on not only the American people but on the world's various governmental bodies will surely either be changed or backed up considerably by viewing The Corporation. Those who tend to be liberal in their political views will see the facts and fears that they have known for years finally brought to the forefront by directors Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott, while those who are more conservative just might have their eyes opened a bit as to what these corporations are all about. Sure, this might not dramatically change anyone's political leanings, but regardless of your overall stance, if you're not deeply thinking about the corporate influence on our culture after watching The Corporation, something is amiss.

This project is structured in a mostly non-linear fashion, but is nicely broken down by subject matter, with title cards introducing each new topic. A large collection of interviewees appear throughout, with the filmmakers wisely choosing to introduce each speaker every time they appear, regardless of their frequency of appearance. From Noam Chomsky to the always controversial Michael Moore, this panel is extraordinarily intelligent and informed about that the subject matter. There are even some corporate CEOs, both present and former, that give their take on what their companies provide to the world's economy and various cultures.

While the appearance of Michael Moore might seem like a gimmick, he is mostly kept on a tight leash, delivering some very poignant remarks about various corporate subjects. His discussions about collusion between major corporations and Nazi Germany are extremely compelling, rivaling even the most shocking conclusions he comes to in his own films. He also delivers a nice statement near the end of the film explaining how important it is for him to continue to make his documentaries as long as these corporations continue the practices that are detailed in this feature.

Another compelling segment involves former Shell Oil CEO Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, who had an eye-opening experience about what his corporation was doing to the environment when a group of protestors arrived at his house and camped out on his lawn. Instead of calling the authorities to have them removed from his property, he took the time to sit down and talk with these people, to hear what they had to say, and defend his actions (or inactions) as the CEO. It's truly remarkable to hear him holding a casual, impassioned discussion with these protesters while his wife is busy feeding them and giving them tea.

The Corporation is a truly phenomenal, informative film about a subject that the conservative media and politicians would just as soon ignore than make any effort to tackle first-hand. It's nice to see these filmmakers take the time and effort to present the facts in a detailed, methodical way and not jump on the brisk, all-frills documentary bandwagon that's existed for the last few years. Super Size Me and Michael Moore's projects are great movies, whose pacing definitely fit the subject matter, but the topics covered in The Corporation made it necessary to film this slower, not-so-audience-friendly, picture in such a manner.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The Corporation shows up in an anamorphic 1.85:1 presentation that is quite good, especially for a documentary that uses stock footage of various ages. Grain and dirt are miraculously kept to a minimum during the older footage, but the overall production and presentation of the interview segments is very slick, with vibrant colors and sharp images throughout. Black levels are consistent, and shadows are nicely handled as well.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: A Dolby Digital 2.0 track is much more dynamic than expected. The filmmakers made a concerted effort to seamlessly blend the dialogue, music, and sound effects together when transitioning between talking heads and stock footage, and that effort is made obvious by this audio mix. There's even a slight bass presence, which never overwhelms the consistent dialogue clarity or other sounds.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring Manufacturing Consent
8 Deleted Scenes
1 Featurette(s)
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by 1. Directors Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott2. Writer Joel Bakan
Packaging: generic plastic two-disc keepc
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Q's & A's: Eight questions about the making of The Corporation, which are answered by Mark Achbar, Jennifer Abbott, and Joel Bakan
  2. Majority Report Interview with Joel Bakan: Clip from The Majority Report radio show, hosted by Janeane Garofolo.
  3. Over five hours of additional interviews with those featured in The Corporation on Disc 2.
Extras Review: Zeitgeist's release of The Corporation is spread out over two discs, with Disc 1 housing the feature film along with a pair of audio commentaries. The first track has directors Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott explaining why they made their film and what they hope the film's impact will be on the world. The second track is with writer Joel Bakan, who wrote the book that the film is based on. He touches on his feelings about how his words and ideas were translated to film, and how pleased he is with the finished product.

Q's & A's are a series of eight questions about The Corporation, which are answered in video interview segments that were filmed around the world in various locations. The usual suspects Achbar, Abbott, and Bakan are those fielding the questions, and they give very intelligent, detailed answers to these inquiries.

Also on Disc 1 are eight Deleted Scenes that were probably cut from the finished film for reasons of time, an interview clip with Joel Bakan from The Majority Report radio show, which is hosted by actress/comedienne Janeane Garofolo, and a featurette called Katherine Dodds on Grassroots Marketing, during which she talks about the extensive time and effort that went into marketing The Corporation.

Disc 2 has only one distinct feature, but it runs for over five hours. It's basically a huge collection of more interview footage with those who appeared on camera in The Corporation. The way these are split up is very nice, as viewers can choose them either by speaker or by subject.

Extras Grade: A


Final Comments

An incredibly revelatory documentary, The Corporation finally has a chance to be seen by the masses, thanks to Zeitgeist's wonderful two-disc set. Various stock footage, companied with new interview footage makes for varying degrees of video quality and the audio does its job, and the vast collection of extras assists this comprehensive project. There's enough on Disc 1 to make most completists happy, but the five hours of additional interview footage on Disc 2 makes this release a DVD event.


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