American Empire: An Act of Collective Madness: Film Review

This latest in a long line of Occupy Wall Street-minded documentaries suffers from its strident tone and scattershot approach.

Patrea Patrick's impassioned doc details the myriad ways in which corporate interests are destroying the country.

Another week, another apocalyptic documentary detailing how we’re all going to hell in a handbasket.

Such is the inevitable weary response to American Empire: An Act of Collective Madness, Patrea Patrick’s scattershot film detailing the myriad ways in which America has succumbed to corporate interests, thereby jeopardizing not only the country but also the entire planet. The latest in a seemingly endless series of Occupy Wall Street-minded jeremiads, it sacrifices the strength of many of its admittedly worthy arguments through its sheer overload.

The film’s central thesis, one that will surely be embraced by followers of Ron Paul, is that many of the problems stem from the formation of the Federal Reserve, devised in 1910 by Senator Nelson Aldrich and six banking titans who met privately on Jekyll Island. Designed to create a system to regulate the American economy in a way that would better serve corporate interests, it was later signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson, who is here less than flatteringly depicted.

This event serves as a springboard for a freewheeling examination of political and corporate malfeasance that includes genetically altered foods; the rampant use of insecticides; the contamination of water supplies; and our doomed reliance on oil, among many other things.

Buttressing the impassioned arguments are interviews with a wide range of historians, academics, authors and environmentalists including Tariq Ali, David Korten, G. Edward Griffin, Peter Koenig, Judy Alexander, Jeffrey Smith, Robert Borman, Maude Barlow and many others, as well as historical quotes from the likes of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and even Henry Kissinger (“He who controls the money, controls the world”).

Despite the inclusion of archival photos and stock footage, the film is the sort of visually static affair that makes one wonder if its avalanche of information and statistics wouldn’t be far more effective in printed form. But then again, books are so passé.

Production company: Heartfelt Films
Director/director of photography/editor: Patrea Patrick
Screenwriters: Patrea Patric, Jack Tucker
Producers: Jack Tucker, Patrea Patrick, Rian Jamieson, Frank Johnson, Sharlene Sullivan
Composer: Shane Jordan
Not rated, 95 min.