The Shock Doctrine (2009)

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Released 28-Mar-2012

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Interviews-Cast & Crew-2010 Sundance Film Festival Discussion
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2009
Running Time 78:49
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Mat Whitecross
Michael Winterbottom
Entertainment One Starring Ewen Cameron
Janine Huard
Naomi Klein
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Milton Friedman
Salvador Allende
Donald O. Hebb
Richard Nixon
Edward M. Korry
Augusto Pinochet
Margaret Thatcher
Orlando Letelier
Case ?
RPI ? Music None Given

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

   If The Shock Doctrine, the new documentary from Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross (The Road to Guantanamo), is to be believed economist Milton Friedman has a lot to answer for. The history of the last 50 years of World economics has been cursed by Friedman and his free market thinking as spread by his disciples, known as the "Chicago Boys".

If economic theories sounds a bit too complex yet mundane to be digested then stay away from this film for despite the best efforts of Winterbottom et al to dumb down the economics for the masses this does remain a difficult film to absorb at one sitting. The Shock Doctrine is based on the book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism by author Naomi Klein. She ties together, in a way that takes some imagining, the CIA sensory deprivation experiments of the 50s with the spread of the ideas of Milton Friedman, showing how nations that followed his theories, usually disastrously, adopted harsh methods and used bad times to bring in social change.

The film uses lectures by Klein, interspersed with archive footage to bring home its points. Klein is a passionate speaker and these segments serve to confirm that this is a film about her theories and not gospel truth. Whatever your politics,these ideas are worthy of being considered and debated at length.

Friedman was a radical thinker in the 50s suggesting that the Keynesian ideas of strong government and public works programmes as an economic stimulus i.e. The New Deal, were flawed and ultimately weakened society. By contrast deregulation and the promotion of the free market were the only ways to stimulate growth. Of course, any film these days that mentions deregulation is liable to set blood pressure racing.

Klein goes one step further. The Chicago Boys that inlfiltrated governments around the globe were creating economies that drained the purses of the poor yet those of the rich expanded. The rich got richer, to poor got the picture, as Midnight Oil once sang.The rise in corporate salries in the US and the emergence of the Oligarchs in Russia being two prime examples.The Shock Doctrine is the introduction of social change in the face of disasters, using the cover of crisis as a smokescreen for social change.

The film follows the history of disaster capitalism from the coups in Chile and the Falklands War through to the modern day. Hurricane Katrina not only saw the central Government at its weakest but excited the pulses of the Friedmanites who saw the floods as an opportunity to create a new New Orleans. So too the War in Iraq was an exercise in re-engineering the country. Use "shock and awe" to level the means of production then introduce private contractors and enablers to change the nation beyond recognition.

Films attacking capitalism are nothing new. Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story was a blackly funny look into the GFC and the inevitability of exploitation that comes with any system that presents wealth as the ultimate goal.Shock Doctrine is a little complex to absorb at a single viewing and some of the connections seem tenous but the ideas are persuasive and worth engaging with.

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Transfer Quality


  The Shock Doctrine was shot on high definition video and presented in the cinema at a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. That ratio has preserved for the DVD release. It is 16x9 enhanced.

The film makes no bones about being an urgent, in-your-face documentary. It consists of filmed lectures and some interviews together with a wealth of historical, archive footage. The image quality is acceptable throughout without ever being high quality.

The colours are stable and the flesh tones acceptable. The lecture footage varies in quality.

There are no subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The Shock Doctrine carries a pretty miniscule Dolby Digital 2.0 English track running at 192 Kb/s.

I haven't seen this low a bit-rate for a feature in some time. Truth be told,however, the lack of a compelling, expansive audio track is not really a big loss. The film doesn't really have too many opportunities for surround sound and sub-woofer action.

Most importantly the dialogue and voice over narration is clear and easy to understand.

The score features a couple of borrowings most significantly the main theme from Fargo, by Carter Burwell.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


2010 Sundance Film Festival Discussion

The sole, but detailed, extra is a Sundance panel featuring Robert Redford, Naomi Klein, Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross . The moderator notes the day as significant as the day earlier another controversial thinker, Howard Zinn, passed away. Robert Redford makes a salient point as to the importance of the film: We don't have enough interest in history to learn from our mistakes.

The panellists are asked and give interesting replies to questions regarding their involvement in the project and the relevance and importance of keeping watch for the Shock Doctrine in today's world - Katrina and Haiti being two examples of attempts by the free-marketers to see an opportunity for disaster capitalism.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

The Region 1 version is the same. Buy local.


   The Shock Doctrine is a documentary to inspire and enrage. If accepted in it's entirety Milton Friedman is worse than any dictator on the planet - his ideas causing unparallelled grief.

The DVD looks and sounds as good as it should.

The only extra is an interesting Q&A.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Monday, March 26, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer SC-LX 81 7.1
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 7.1

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