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The Shock Doctrine (2009)

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
Stars: Naomi Klein
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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)
...
Himself
...
Himself (archive footage)
Donald O. Hebb ...
Himself - Doctor (as Donald Hebb)
...
Himself (archive footage)
Edward Korry ...
Himself - Former US Ambassador to Chile
...
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

References The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989) See more »

Soundtracks

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from Fargo (1996)
Written by Carter Burwell
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User Reviews

A Compelling History Lesson
3 September 2009 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

The adaptation of Naomi Klein's book 'The Shock Doctrine' seems to have been quite convoluted. First Alfonso Cuarón and his brother teamed up with Klein to make a 6 minute short film almost as a way of advertising the book.

This is just a taster for the larger issue at hand. Whitecross and Winterbottom's feature-length documentary is a journey into the meat of the matter. Each of the snippets from Cuarón's film are expanded and the story is told over a grand, even epic, scale. This is the story of an economist called Milton Friedman and his idea. Perhaps not just an idea, given the remarkable effect of Friedman's 'idea' it just doesn't seem like a big enough word, but it will have to do. The idea is one that sounds attractive, it is beguiling in its simplicity and more than that, it offers the chance of a kind of utopia - it is the notion of the 'Free Market'. Klein's book, and this film, describe how Friedman's ideas on Free Market economics went from being a marginalised backwater of economic theory to being the reasoning behind so many international events in recent years. It is the story of how deregulated trading isn't a Utopian saviour but a dangerous and unpredictable beast powerful enough to bring a country to its knees.

The argument is drawn clearly and with enough evidence to be compelling; from the military coups in Chile and Argentina through the right wing governments of Thatcher and Reagan, a stop off with Boris Yeltsin and the collapse of the Soviet Union and ending with our current embroilment in Iraq – Naomi Klein has drawn a path connecting all these events to the economic ideas of Milton Friedman. At points the power of the message is a little overwhelming, it made me angry to see the atrocities committed in the service of enacting national changes. To see the rich get rich and the poor, well the poor get eaten up by the system. It is horrible and brilliant. Sickening and yet so very clever, so smart as to be almost admirable – but that doesn't make it right.

They are preaching to the converted with me, but I urge you to seek out this film. Find it and watch it and understand some of the underlying ideas that run our lives on a day to day and nation to nation basis. A word of warning though, you might get angry.


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