In his second inaugural address, President Bush pledged to "bring democracy to the world". In a speech lasting 23 minutes, he mentioned the words 'democracy' and 'liberty' 21 times. Most of the world, it is fair to say, will have recoiled, many in fear...
"One of the most powerful documentaries of the year...makes you look at the world in a new light." London Daily Mirror
Bush's speech was significant because it finally emptied noble concepts like 'democracy' of their true meaning - government, of, by and for the people. Never before have people in the west shown such disenchantment with the democracy they vote for and the version they get. Never before has most of humanity registered such alarm at the ambitions of a great power.
The War on Democracy demonstrates the brutal reality of the America's notion of 'spreading democracy'; that, in fact, America is actually conducting a war on democracy, and that true popular democracy is now more likely to be found among the poorest of Latin America whose grassroots movements are often ignored in the west.
John Pilger conducts an exclusive interview with President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. Pilger also goes to the United States and in some remarkable interviews, speaks exclusively to US government officials who ran the CIA's war in Latin America in the 1980s. This reveals more about US policy than all the statements and postures of recent times; it also reveals how what's happened in Latin America is a metaphor for how the rest of the world is being "ordered."
The War on Democracy, however, is a hopeful film, for it sees the world not through the eyes of the powerful, but through the hopes and dreams and extraordinary actions of ordinary people. Although set mostly in Latin America, it is a metaphor for all the world.
The thrust of John Pilger's latest film is a constant theme in all his work: that great, rapacious power is far from invincible and that people power is enduring. Photaographed in high definition video, few films have been as timely as The War on Democracy.
Other films by John Pilger are Breaking the Silence, Stealing a Nation, New Rulers of the World, Palestine is Still the Issue, Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq, Inside Burma, and the four films in the Documentaries that Changed the World series: The Quiet Mutiny, Death of a Nation, Year Zero: The Silent Death of Cambodia, and Do You Remember Vietnam?.
Note: THE WAR ON DEMOCRACY has been shown in theaters in several countries around the world, but it does not have a US theatrical distributor.
Grade Level: 10 - 12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 2008
Copyright Date: 2007
DVD ISBN: 1-59458-751-5
VHS ISBN: 1-59458-750-7
"You'll come away feeling angry, inspired, informed and thoroughly entertained...the strength of Pilger's absorbing and emotive film lies both in the broader context it provides and the dots it skilfully connects...The great struggle on the Latin American continent of the last 500 years is largely unknown in the West, it is an ongoing story of control, empire and resistance that Pilger has successfully captured at what could be a pivotal moment. * * * *"
"Extraordinary documentary. A fascinating look at the social and economic history of a continent which is frequently overlooked in the news. The United States' own notion of democracy comes across as positively Orwellian...[Pilger's] passion for the subject and dedicated research pay off superbly...[and] make for gripping viewing. A brilliantly-researched and sometimes shocking insight into the democratic position of those countries whose dealings with America are more along the lines of slave than political poodle.****"
"A necessary, provocative film from a daring filmmaker who has proven among the most insightful and accurate advocates in the world for truth."
"The War on Democracy is a powerful piece. Respected journalist and documentarian John Pilger distinguishes himself from the current crop of high profile polemicists like Michael Moore due to his sheer body of work...[and] solid reportage...What is presented in The War on Democracy is a scary affirmation of one's worst fears with regard to the cheapness of human life at the expense of worldwide financial interests.****"
Film Review magazine
"Dynamic and emotionally effective...the passion and integrity of the polemic is never in doubt...and Pilger's assertions...are urgent and lucid.**** Film of the Week"
Time Out, London
"The War on Democracy is John Pilger's convincing account of America's shameful role in undermining people power...it's heartfelt, sincere and often enlightening viewing."
The Observer, London
"It's not often that the audience claps at a film [critic's] screening (in fact, this is the first time I've experienced such emotion), however, this film is delivered with such skill and astonishing facts...that it's not at all surprising. A powerful and poignant story that allows us to understand the true nature of the so-called war on terrorism. Don't miss."
"Such concern with language and the media as instruments of dissimulating injustice or speaking the truth for the disenfranchised gives The War on Democracy a political force in the very wildest sense: it's little wonder that Harold Pinter praises Pilger."
Sight and Sound