Movie Review: Crude and Chevron's Social Darwinism

I would have sworn that The Cove had the Oscar sewn up for best documentary this year. But Joe Berlinger's Crude, which opens next Wednesday (9.9.09), will be in the thick of the Oscar fight.

You've got to hand it to Berlinger for his even-handed work on Crude, a film that depicts immense sadness and stunning corporate villainy. Yet Berlinger offers a balanced look at the conflict. Chevron gets the chance to tell its story and Berlinger never pulls any sort of "gotcha" move on them. It's just that the facts are so damning, even given the full-bore public-relations disinformation campaign by Chevron.

The story Berlinger tells is about the callously deadly and widespread despoiling of the Ecuadorian rain forest by Texaco -- now owned by Chevron -- and Chevron's refusal to accept responsibility for it. It's infuriating, at the least, to look at and listen to evidence - and listen to Chevron's lawyers and spokespeople denying all the things they so obviously are guilty of.

But Berlinger tells the story calmly, carefully, offering both sides the opportunity to present a case. Yet it's obvious to anyone with eyes that Chevron is being disingenuous about its culpability for massive environmental crimes. It's just as obvious why Chevron is dead-set on tying the matter up in court until everyone involved has died of old age or the cancer caused by Chevron's toxic legacy.

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