The movie "The Corporation" is based on the book by Joel Bakan. The full title is "The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power." The movie was originally shown on Sept. 10, 2003, at the Toronto International Film Festival and released nationally on Jan. 16, 2004. It highlights many problems with both ethics and international issues.'
The movie has been described by critics as "provoking," "witty" and "stylish."
"The Corporation" looks at the development of a business corporation, and its transformation from a legal entity to a government-chartered institution. This institution is meant to affect specific public operations. The movie then shows how these institutions have risen and gained power to the extent that they now are viewed as being entitled to almost the same legal rights as a person. The movie concludes by engaging the audience in thought-provoking interaction: Does to the ethics (or lack thereof) shown by these phenomenal powers work fairly for all concerned?
A statement issued by Chief Justice Morrison R. Waite ruled that corporations should be treated as "persons" and therefore should have the same rights as actual human beings. Waite made this statement following the recommendations in an 1886 case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. This was also the ruling that gave slaves their rights back. Taking the status of an institution as being a legal "person" to what so me would view as a logical conclusion, the movie decides to place the corporation into a psychiatrist's couch, and asks the question, "What kind of person is it?"
There are some difficult topics looked at, which include the Business Plot from 1933, when General Smedley Butler was responsible for exposing an alleged plot by a corporation against the U.S. President F D Roosevelt; the suppression of a news story regarding Bovine Growth Hormone on one of Fox's news channels; the fact that (allegedly) the soft drink Fanta by The Coca-Cola Co. had been invented due to the trade embargo against Nazi Germany and the (alleged) role IBM had during the Nazi holocaust, and general stories regarding corporations and their social responsibilities.
"The Corporation" studies corporate business practices and whether their ethics are all that they should be and also compares the way in which large corporations are almost compelled to behave with symptoms of psychopathy. For example: Do they display a cruel and insensitive disregard for other people's feelings? Do they have the capacity to keep meaningful human relationships? Do they display an irresponsible attitude towards the safety of others? Are they showing deceitfulness? Have they got the capacity to experience guilt? Do they often fail to conform to what are considered to be social norms? Do they have respect for the law of the land?
As a contrast, the movie manages to show us almost saint-like figures, such as Roy Anderson, (CEO of Interface), who is the largest carpet manufacturer in the world. He tells fellow executives that they are behaving in an awful manner by "plundering" the world of its riches; he then attempts to change the identity of his corporation into one that displays a need for sustainable production. The movie makes the point that all living organisms on earth are in decline, mainly because corporations stealing from the future in order to enrich themselves now.
How true to life is this movie? Well it does show us in some detail how far the ethics of these corporations have become stretched and how the corporations themselves could almost be described as being parasitical. It would seem to be the unfortunate truth at the moment, as increasing numbers of these corporations seem to view their workforce as being merely human resources and not people who have a heart, a life and a family to consider. "The Corporation" has a vehement message, but at a running time of almost 2 1/2 hours, it could be said that it is too long.