The Emperor’s New Clothes – Movie Review by Frank L.
Directed by Michael Winterbottom
Hans Christian Andersens famous children’s story makes a fine title for this fun but ultimately serious documentary about the Western world and the economic inequality and injustice which has been let rip by the unholy trinity of Milton Friedman, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan and their followers and successors. The end result was the financial crisis of 2008 the consequences of which are, of course, still with us.
Russell Brand is “the little boy” who is trying to expose what the swindlers at the top of the economic pile have managed to peddle, for the last thirty years or so, successfully to the populous to their own considerable financial advantage and aggrandisement. The primary attack is against the bankers and Russell Brand is always entertaining as he tries to meet with any of these “great men” but of course they are not available. He is not allowed to get beyond the reception desk by suitably uniformed automatons at best. But that does not prevent him in engaging in hard hitting and amusing repartee with the unfortunates whose job it is to shield the bankers. The smug pomposity of clips of Lord Green (former Chairman of HSBC) or Stephen Gulliver (Chief Executive of HSBC) as they collide with questions about their business activities illustrate how far this class have become almost immune from attack and are able to act with a degree of impunity.
Russell Brand scampers around his hometown of Grays in Essex, brings to light that even his beloved soccer teams are in the maw of this economic elite, and points out that somehow German soccer teams are not so blighted. He charges around the City of London, with megaphone in hand, with a trailer emblazoned with the slogan “shop a banker” with mug shots of Andy Hornby (HBOS), Fred Goodwin (RBS) and Bob Diamond (Barclays) plastered on the side. On a different level he shows how people who are not part of this financial elite are treated and in particular the interview with a sufferer from cerebral palsy shows how pitiful her existence is. Something needs to be done. That is where unfortunately this fun, hard hitting polemical film falls down. He exhorts everyone to become involved but how exactly is far from clear. Not voting, and encouraging people not to vote, is unlikely to create the better society which both he and Michael Winterbottom seek. Nobody should be complacent about the current state of affairs. If the film helps raise the debate as to what the true source of the cancerous growths at the heart of the financial world are, it will have done some service.
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