Breaking Down Economic Breakdown

The_New_York_TimesMOVIE REVIEW

The End of Poverty? (2008)

Breaking Down Economic Breakdown

By NEIL GENZLINGER
Published: November 13, 2009

Why Philippe Diaz has titled his new documentary “The End of Poverty?” is unclear, because this guilt trip/history lesson is really about the beginning of poverty: how the economic and social systems evolved that have kept parts of the world wealthy and large swaths of it poor. The film spends so much time detailing its thesis that the roots of modern poverty are 500 years deep — going back to the explorers and conquistadors who first supplanted indigenous economic systems with Western ideas of property ownership — that it only briefly mentions what might be done about the problem. And then it cops out by not dealing with the many practical barriers to that solution.

For his gallery of talking heads, Mr. Diaz, to his credit, uses academics and public figures from all over the globe — Kenya, Bolivia, France — rather than just the usual American and British professors. And they lay the blame for poverty squarely on Western capitalism and the notion that natural resources like water and oil can be owned. (If that sounds like Henry George, the 19th-century political economist, it’s because the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation, which is devoted to George’s ideas, is behind the film.) These experts sound a bit naïve, but they do at least make the case that handouts from wealthy countries won’t undo the current inequities.

What will? Serge Latouche, a French economist, suggests what he calls de-growth as the way back to economic Eden, but the film ends without explaining how to bring that about.

THE END OF POVERTY?

Opens on Friday in Manhattan.

Written and directed by Philippe Diaz; director of photography, Mr. Diaz; narrated byMartin Sheen; edited by Tom Von Doom; music by Cristian Bettler and Max Soussan; produced by Beth Portello; released by Cinema Libre Studio. At the Village East, Second Avenue at 12th Street, East Village. In English, Spanish and French with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 44 minutes. This film is not rated.

One Response to Breaking Down Economic Breakdown

  1. Matt says:

    If you watch the video at the link below, at about the 39 minute mark the directory clearly explains the way to cure poverty is to only work 5 hours a day and stop buying things! Brilliant! Makes perfect sense if you don’t think about it!

    He also says that “people are poor only because we are rich” (38m20s). Wow, he doesn’t seem to realize that wealth isn’t a zero sum game.

    http://www.democracynow.org/2009/11/10/filmmaker_philippe_diaz_on_the_end

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>