This is a repost of my review which ran at DOC NYC ast November. The film hit VOD on May 1 and while I had planned to put this up in connection with that date this review got lost (ie I probably deleted it with other reposts) in the shuffle of changing release dates
I am trying to figure out what I think of Capital in the 21st Century. It’s not that there is anything wrong with the film in how it is made or what it is saying, I’m just not certain what it actually wants me to do about the question it raises.
Based on Thomas Piketty?s‘s bestselling book the film is an examination of the economic state of the world over say the last half century and how the fall of Communism altered how everyone saw Capitalism as something truly great and wonderful, and how they began to think that unrestricted capitalism would be even better. Of course thinking that way deepened the divisions between the rich and the poor to such a degree that we are rapidly heading toward the days of the robber barons and the rich aristocracy precipitated not only the French Revolution but also the cataclysms of the early 20th century, particularly the First World War and Great Depression.
I loved pretty much everything that’s in this film. I love how it connects up events and explains where it thinks we are headed. It’s a wonderful font of information that I really can’t argue with. We are widening the divide between the haves and have nots and there is a really good chance that some if not all of what they are saying about how it happened is right on target. On first viewing there is little I can argue with.
The trouble is that there was a point where I suddenly stopped being carried along and I wanted to simply go “yes and…?”. The film never felt like it was leading me anywhere. What did the film want me to do and what did it want me feel? I wasn’t certain. Even when I got to the end and the film got to its conclusion, I still wasn’t certain that what it wanted from me. The only way I can explain it is that it kind of felt like I was taken on a journey and at some point we jumped to the end and then I was asked to comment on the bits that we skipped. The film doesn’t skip anything but I felt like I was missing something.
Uncertainty at the end aside, the arguments and history put forth are vital and must be seen to understand where we are and where we maybe going and as such Capital in the 21st Century is recommended.