Documentary Review : Big Boys Gone Bananas!* (2011)

IMDB Score – 7.2
Rotten Tomato Score – 75%
Netflix Instant Watch

Directed By – Fredrik Gertten
Nominated for Grand Jury Prize for World Cinema Documentray

Dole Food Company wages a campaign to prevent a pair of Swedish filmmakers from showing their documentary about a lawsuit against the company.

Yes. I’m aware that the title of this film is misleading. I can assure you that the film I’m about to review is REALLY about a lawsuit Dole filed against a film claiming defamation and not a film about a bunch of dudes going crazy on film with each other. As a lover of film it is my duty to remain unbiased towards certain titles and to never judge a book or film by its cover or title but I assure you that I read up on this film before I watched it. Now that I got that off my chest, let’s get to the film on hand.

So basically what this is is a documentation of the legal proceedings that followed the creation of Bananas!*, a film by Swedish director Fredrik Gertten about the legal battles and dangers that banana pickers/workers were going though at that time. Dole, the biggest manufacturer of fruit and vegetables in the world was mentioned in the film but not focused as a direct cause for these problems. The film is to be screened at the LA Film Festival and before it can do so, Gertten receives a cease and desist letter in the mail claiming that if the film is shown at the festival that a lawsuit will follow. The letter was sent by Dole. What follows is a document of how propaganda and direct violation of freedom of speech is rampant in US legal proceedings and that if you want to sue somebody you basically can as long as you have the money to back it up.

It’s kind of a weird concept. The film is about a film, one of which is readily available to the public now, but in order to take a side I feel like I should have seen this film in question. I haven’t and my opinion of the film only differs in a small sense but you should really see the film in question before watching this documentary. I feel it’s more fun that way. Even without doing so I enjoyed this. They show things through an ultimately biased but grounded viewpoint that becomes more factual and poignant as the story starts getting picked up by national news programs. It’s a great look into corporate dealings and operations and that if a company is big enough, they can basically do or say what they want as long as they have the funding for it. It’s a true David and Goliath story that sheds light on commercial industry and its treatment towards the bill of rights.

4/5

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