A Short Review of “Merchants of Doubt”

Last Wednesday I hit the town with Reut, Prachi and Anastasia to finally see a showing of Merchants of Doubt. The film is inspired by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway’s book and directed by Food, Inc. writer/director Robert Kenner. While we were initially worried that the film had the potential to be complex and dry we were surprised to see that Merchants of Doubt is a slick, engaging documentary. We all left with our minds racing at the eye-opening cases and characters presented (don’t let our selfie smiles below fool you – that was just for the camera).

In my opinion the Merchants of Doubt book is packed with information and sometimes becomes a bit dense. Names occasionally jumble and studies begin to confuse with each other. The film does a nice job at taking the book’s troves of information and creating stories that are both informative and digestible. Seeing the characters on screen also added a lot – reading about repulsive lobbyists and CEOs was unnerving yet actually seeing those grinning, scummy merchants was downright infuriating. The film medium also allowed for plenty beautiful stock footage, high-quality graphics work and a very gripping visual metaphor of a magician tricking audiences to believe certain outcomes.

While plenty more could be said about the film it is much more satisfying to instead encourage everyone to see it so we can have an in-class conversation. There are so many current issues and methods of storytelling used in Merchants of Doubt and there is not a finer group of artists/environmentalists to discuss it with. So give it a watch and we’ll talk soon!

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