MOVIE: THE KINGMAKER
STARRING: IMELDA MARCOS; FERDINAND BONGBONG MARCOS;
DIRECTED BY: LAUREN GREENFIELD
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 3 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
If you asked me to describe to you what corruption looks like, I would direct you to watch Lauren Greenfield's documentary The Kingmaker. This is a film that captures the rise and fall of a family, one that has been in power in the Philippines since the 1960's, lowering their guard, but it also plays like a by the numbers look at how dictators hold onto their power. It's the same script for all of them, Vladimir Putin in Russia, Kim Jong-Un in North Korea, and a path that Donald Trump is obviously following. The government is there for their disposal, for them to wield power, and not there for the people they govern. It seems like a simple thing to understand and yet, I was floored by what I learned watching The Kingmaker. This is not just about someone in power, this is about Imelda Marcos, her rise to prominence with husband Ferdinand as dictator, how she stole money from the Philippines government for her lavish things, and how she has been trying to get back to that power ever since she lost it. The Kingmaker is not just important filmmaking, it's a terrifying indictment of corruption.
Think about this, there is an island in the Philippines, it's called Calauit, and it is where Imelda Marcos put her exotic animals to live. Giraffes, elephants, lions, zebra, and more. Not knowing that the animals would ruin the islands habitat, push those that lived on the island out of their homes, and then just left the animals there when she couldn't take care of them anymore. You must be an extremely selfish person to not care for the people you displaced and then abandon the animals that were in your possession. This is who Imelda Marcos has been. In The Kingmaker she wants you to believe that she is a surrogate “mother” for the people of the Philippines. That may be how she views it, but it is a delusion in the mind of a power hungry person.
Most of the time in documentaries there is a bit of layering, like a cake, that goes into telling the story. Laura Greenfield not only educates us on the history of the Marcos family, Imelda's relationships with past presidents Ford, Raegan, and Carter- Ferdinand silencing his detractors, and her shoes, the thousands and thousands of shoes. Greenfield also lays out the foundation of how the power the Marcos family had has never gone away. Current president Rodrigo Duterte is a friend to the Marcos' family, while eldest son Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos runs for the separate vote for vice-president (Bongbong is currently still challenging the results that he lost, of course). Behind the scenes has always been Imelda, walking into a room with servants surrounding her, extravagant parties, and whispering into the ears of leaders.
The Kingmaker reveals that when Ferdinand & Imelda were in power, they stole up to 12 billion, with a B, from the government of the Philippines. At this moment, the government only recovered six billion back, proving that it pays to be in power. That's not the only message at hand for Greenfield to tell us. The Kingmaker is not pandering to the audience, she just hopes we are listening. Documentaries this year, such as Meeting Gorbachev, Mike Wallace is Here, or Hail Satan? have been signs of where the world was headed and how we stay out of the traps of fascism. The Kingmaker is arguably the best documentary of the year. This is a true inspection to how the powerful don't care who they step on to keep their lavish, wealthy lifestyle. Imelda Marcos certainly is a personality to document, now watch it and make sure you keep people just like her out of government. There's no place for a king.
3 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady