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The Shock Doctrine (2009)

7.6
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 1,768 users  
Reviews: 13 user | 30 critic

An investigation of "disaster capitalism", based on Naomi Klein's proposition that neo-liberal capitalism feeds on natural disasters, war and terror to establish its dominance.

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Drawing surprising connections between market methods and CIA torture techniques developed in the 1950s, the film explores how well-known events of the recent past have been theaters for the shock doctrine, from Pinochet's coup in Chile, to the Tiananmen Square Massacre, to the war in Iraq today.

Director: Jonás Cuarón
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ewen Cameron ...
Himself (archive footage) (as Dr. Ewen Cameron)
Janine Huard ...
Herself
...
Herself
...
Himself (archive footage) (as Franklin Delano Roosevelt)
Milton Friedman ...
Himself
...
Himself (archive footage)
Donald O. Hebb ...
Himself - Doctor (as Donald Hebb)
...
Himself (archive footage)
Edward Korry ...
Himself - Former US Ambassador to Chile
Augusto Pinochet ...
Himself (archive footage)
...
Herself (archive footage)
Orlando Letelier ...
Himself (archive footage)
Michael Townley ...
Himself
Arnold Harberger ...
Himself
Jorge Rafael Videla ...
Himself (archive footage) (as Jorge Videla)
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Storyline

Naomi Klein gives a lecture tracing the confluence of ideas about modifying behavior using shock therapy and other sensory deprivation and modifying national economics using the "shock treatment" of Milton Friedman and the Chicago School. She moves chronologically: Pinochet's Chile, Argentina and its junta, Yeltsin's Russia, Bush and Bremer's Iraq. A trumped-up villain provides distraction or rationalization: Marxism, the Falklands, nuclear weapons, terrorists; and, always, there is a great shift of money and power from the many to the few. News footage, a narrator, and talking heads back up Klein's analysis. She concludes on a note of hope. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Release Date:

3 March 2010 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Doktrina soka  »

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Did You Know?

Quotes

[first lines]
Naomi Klein: A state of shock is something that happens to us not only when something bad happens. It's what happens to us when we lose our narrative, when we lose our story, when we become disoriented.
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Connections

Version of The Shock Doctrine (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

original soundtrack excerpts
from Fargo (1996)
Written by Carter Burwell
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User Reviews

 
Prophetic, disturbing,... but ultimately flawed.
12 April 2012 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

The question on my mind after seeing The Shock Doctrine was whether ends justify means. Quite possibly, this is the question Klein wanted to be asked, because much of her case regards the distasteful means taken in order to further free market economics, tactics which the very proponents of these dogmas may feel they want to disassociate themselves with. However, my question was about Klein's/Winterbottom's own tactics.

The film uses all methods that we've grown used to from modern politics: cherry-picked facts, "proofs" by emotionally-charged metaphors, hinted claims of guilt by association, sound-bite slogans that are repeated incessantly, and, of course, scare tactics. Sad to say, I've come to expect these things from political candidates that need to make their points in a 30-second TV appearance. I've even come to expect them in rating-seeking news programs. But have we stooped so low that these tactics are now par-for-the-course in documentaries, where a film-maker has 90 minutes of canvas to make a clear, compelling, and well-argued case? I happen to agree with Klein's stance that extreme capitalism is dangerous, and I think what we are seeing in both Europe and China in recent years (e.g. the collapse of Chinese nation-wide education and health policies) are just further proofs of the narrative Klein forwards. However, I don't see that there is a well-argued case here that would convince someone claiming that any change, good or bad, rarely happens in a peaceful way, or that the ultimate outcome of privatization is better than the alternative. In fact, only a handful of minutes of this film are devoted to the question of what the final outcome of extreme capitalism looks like, historically, and these minutes are full of unsubstantiated claims thrown into the air in what is exactly the tactic Klein warns against: shock a person for just over an hour, and suddenly that person becomes much more open to suggestion, at which point you can sprinkle some of your favorite dogmas on him.

So, perhaps this film does a good job with all those who are willing to be convinced by visceral arguments, the likes of which have, unfortunately, come to dominate the public discourse, but I rather promote those who educate people to think. Scaring people to make the choices you think are right... well, that's what this film is all about. Isn't it?


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