The Corporation (2003)

The Corporation is an in-depth examination of corporations and their overwhelming influence in almost every aspect of our lives. Directed by Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott, the 2003 documentary is based on Joel Bakan’s book, “The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power,” and takes a look at how the corporation emerged from the Industrial Revolution to becoming a legal person and a powerful entity in modern times. Experts dissect and examine the intricacies of laws and protections built around an institution that, once created for the common good, is now a driving force in some of the most ruthless economic gains in the world. The burning question that dominates the discussion is: If a corporation is a legal person, how would it present in society? According to Bakan, corporations have the M.O. of a psychopathic personality with its self-serving objectives.

For over two hours, professors, business leaders, CEOs, philosophers, economists, and reporters weigh in on the effects of sweatshops, environmental damage, the persuasion of marketing, and the insidious way corporations run our lives to create wealth that most can’t access. Those who benefit from corporations, from leaders of countries to top CEOs exhibit morally corrupt behaviour equal to the machine that fuels commerce and lines their pockets. But there are those who propel change by challenging the economic behemoth, from activists to CEOs who realized the damage their work was doing. Even though corporations have a grim diagnosis, this documentary shows how even the biggest powers can be challenged successfully, and the smallest changes can incite a larger movement for the common good.

Review by Carolyn Mauricette

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Directed by Mark Achbar andJennifer Abbott
Mark Achbar also directed Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media with Peter Wintonick in 1992. The New Corporation: Unfortunately Necessary Sequel was released in 2020.