The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is the new documentary from Morgan Spurlock who you’ll remember from the award-winning Super Size Me, an intense look at how fast food is affecting our health and the place they occupy within our society and culture. Where Spurlock differs from many documentary makers who observe, record and argue is the that he ingratiates himself within his argument and experiences the issue from within, and without bias. Many will fondly remember the sacrifices he made to his health, and even his marriage when undertaking the Super Size Me production.
In this film, Spurlock aims to expose and experience the world of product placement and corporate sponsorship in the entertainment industry. The challenge? To produce a film costing 1.5m funded purely through corporate sponsorship, whilst at the same time giving us full insight in to the technical practices and moral dilemmas involved when being ‘brand friendly’. The camera crew follow his exploits as he approaches marketing directors and CEOs of brands, pitching the idea of The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, a bizarre situation in which the film is being produced at the same time that its very existence is being discussed and planned, and at one point dubed ‘the Inception of documentaries’. Through this process we see the demands exerted on the creative party by the brands and the harsh dilemma it causes, the trade-off between securing the finance and retaining creative control.
Much like Super Size Me, Spurlock examines the issue at hand through a number of lenses. He talks to lawyers who explain the restrictions and ramifications of raising finance through corporate sponsorship. He undertakes an MRI scan so that marketing can be examined biologically; how it affects the human brain, and scarily, how brands use that data to focus their marketing. Spurlock also interviews an impressive roster of names to gain a number of perspectives, Donald Trump, Quention Tarantino, OK Go, Bret Ratner, Noam Chomsky and many others all make appearances to offer their insights and experience to the debate.
The final product (for a product it certainly is) is a fascinating, and most of all, devilishly fun piece of filmmaking. The controlled experiment is the perfect vehicle to examine something that so pervades our society, but with a guide such as Morgan Spurlock, it’s a highly enjoyable experience. The elephant in the room is placed under the spotlight, dressed in glitter and gently ridiculed, allowing us as consumers to fully understand its position in our culture. Well worth a watch, especially for those with an interest in marketing or the entertainment industry but don’t expect it to cause the ripples that Super Size Me did.