Capitalism: A Love Story
US, 2009, 2h 7min.
Capitalism: A Love Story is about the disastrous impact of corporate dominance on the everyday lives of Americans (and by default, the rest of the world). From Middle America, to the halls of power in Washington, to the global financial epicenter in Manhattan, Moore once again takes film viewers into uncharted territory. What is the price that America pays for its love of capitalism? Today the American dream is looking more like a nightmare as families pay the price with their jobs, their homes and their savings. Moore takes us into the homes of ordinary people whose lives have been turned upside down. What he finds are the all- too-familiar symptoms of a love a air gone astray: lies, abuse, betrayal … and 14,000 jobs being lost every day. Capitalism: A Love Story is both a culmination of Moore’s previous works and a look into what a more hopeful future could look like. It’s Moore’s ultimate quest to answer: Who are we and why do we behave the way that we do?
Michael Moore’s New Capitalism: A Love Story starts with a combination of heavyrock soundtrack and fast-track video surveillance from bank robberies – young boys move around, jump behind the barriers, grab money, threaten people with their guns, and then disappear. As an expression it is an attack on the whole banking system.
The music changes through the two hours of the film: After the rock sequences we hear a slightly comical soundtrack of school band music, before later culminating with classical tragic music – when the end of the American empire is the topic. The film’s birds-eye view flies over the area of New Orleans that was devastated as the result of hurrican Katrina. Usually really poor people are the victims of natural catastrophe – but as the film reminds us: they are also the victims of the nancial crises.
This is the film about the rich and greedy in a united states of prot. For example, when confronted with one of the last tools of capitalism – the derivatives – no one can explain properly: A former vice-president of Lehman Brothers repeatedly stumbles when he sits together with Moore in a park near Wall Street. Another professor from Harvard does the same. Nobody understands, not Moore, not you or me. But derivatives have been one of the main instruments for speculators to work with, and their complicated structure is hard to tax, according to the film.
Moore himself lls nearly every screen as the people’s inquisitor. He gets the theatre audience to rejoice as he – the little man against the big powers – comes with a armed security van to collect the tax payers money robbed from them, or to make civil arrests of corporate board members who benefitted from an apparently corrupt or favourising government that supported old “friends”.
The film is entertaining, but its experts are somewhat general in their explanations – whether it is a priest, a former bank employee, or a public official: “The economy stood on sand”,“wererotten from inside”, or “like a dam with a crack”. These statements can be, and are, cut creatively together within what, it becomes obvious, is a floundering bank environment.
COMPANIES LIKE Wal-Mart and Citibank are disclosed as ‘big corporate greed’. These companies speculate on the likelihood of their employees dying by providing insurance only for lower level workers. Many of these employees will die indeed before their full working life is over, in which case their families will not get any of the one and a half million dollars insurance. The workers suddenly become worth more dead than alive.
Another example: Would you choose to fly with the regular pilots who have had their salary reduced by 40 percent, and as a result have had to work extra hours in coffee-shops or depend on food coupons? Worn-out pilots have been a reason for aeroplane crashes lately, as Moore shows us.
Another important aspect of Moore’s film is that of home loans, which a lot of people were persuaded to take up – their “most valuable asset” as central bank chief Alan Greenspan told them. Subsequently these people could not keep up with the loan interest payments, and they ended up on the streets – with a 1000-dollar bill in their pocket for cleaning of their former homes.