NYT’s review of The Great Fallacy: Long Shadow of an All-Powerful Neighbor


 ‘The Great Fallacy’ Centers on U.S. Role in Puerto Rico, Miriam Bale writes in this review for The New York Times.

“The Great Fallacy,” Paco Vázquez’s dense, lively new film about economic and sociological issues in Puerto Rico, eschews the storytelling form of many contemporary documentaries in favor of an instructive crash course in radical politics. It is propaganda, an educational tool and a practical manifesto for empowerment of the poor and the disenfranchised.

The film is a fast-moving collection of cerebral talking heads intercut with creative inserts (like animation or shots of the slicing of a Puerto Rico-shaped cake, to show how some citizens end up with crumbs). Watching it feels like packing a semester-long history course with a very cool, left-leaning teacher into less than 90 minutes. The aim is wide-reaching and abstract, yet cohesive and invigorating.

Rather than follow the ethnographic film form, in which an objective voice of God gives a third-person description of the life of an exotic subject, this narration uses the second person to address the audience directly. The narrator outlines specific tasks through which audience members can supposedly achieve enlightenment, like “counterattacking your inner programming” and not watching television, because “it is used to dumb us down systematically.” We are advised to practice taking good care of ourselves in a “system designed to make you sick through ‘nutricide.’ ”

Strong language, referring to Puerto Rico as a slave of the United States, is a reminder of the connection between slavery and colonization, the major focus of the film. It reminds viewers that before one man owns another, one nation owns another land.

Is narrative necessary for an informative documentary? Rather than stirring empathy for a few people, as many documentaries do, this ambitious film steps back and tries to present a character study of a nation.  It finds a radical form for a radical message.

For the original report go to http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/15/movies/the-great-fallacy-centers-on-us-role-in-puerto-rico.html?_r=0

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