The Emperor's New Clothes

"Excellent"

The Emperor's New Clothes Review


Political documentaries tend to get the blood boiling, and this is no exception, as it keeps us entertained with a lucid exploration of just how our governments have failed us economically. The central topic is income inequality, and having a riotous figure like Russell Brand front and centre brings the issues home in a clear, infuriating way. Director Michael Winterbottom does a terrific job reining Brand in, keeping him on-point and making sure the details are clearly presented.

Right from the start Brand says that there's nothing in this film we don't already know. But he's connecting the dots in ways that the media certainly isn't willing to do, because they're part of the problem. Indeed, as he works with a classroom of young students, he proves that even a child can understand that our system simply isn't fair: the rich are getting richer, but the poor are struggling more than ever as the gap between them grows out of all proportion. Instead of tackling this problem, the politicians simply deflect it, blaming something as essentially irrelevant as immigration while neglecting a fundamental human value we all teach our children: sharing.

The film goes back in history to explore how we got here. In the 1970s, the wealthy earned 10 times what their lowest-paid employees earned, but the policies of Reagan and Thatcher shifted the balance to the rich, arguing that the cash would trickle down into the rest of society. But that has never happened. Companies and banks only consolidated power and profits, as the free market system made the highest-earning 1 percent even more greedy and selfish than they were before. Now top earners get up to 300 times what their employees are paid. No wonder people are broke, small businesses are failing and towns are in bankruptcy, while the rich just get richer.

Clearly something has to change, so Brand and Winterbottom explore a similar moment in history after the crash of 1929 launched the Great Depression. But instead of austerity (which shifts the burden to the already pressurised poor), FDR taxed the wealthy to launch a spending programme to build infrastructure. As a result, America's had an economic boom that has never been equalled since. And yet in Britain the Conservative Party insists on stripping away public benefits, health care, police, fire and education. All while big corporations are allowed to escape paying tax on their increasing profits. In other words, they are taking the cash out of the hands of the general population and handing it to the already wealthy. And with an election imminent, this message couldn't be any more timely.


The Emperor's New Clothes Trailer

 



The Emperor's New Clothes

Facts and Figures

Genre: Documentaries

Run time: 101 mins

In Theaters: Friday 24th April 2015

Distributed by: Revolution Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 73%
Fresh: 62 Rotten: 23

IMDB: 7.0 / 10

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