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on 10 August 2003
A nice depthy look at the world of the media, and their huge influence on people's opinions and decisions. Chomsky goes rigorously though the New York times archives, and other newspapers, constructing what looks like a clear picture of how people's opinions are informed by TV and newspapers.
Even the editor of the Times looks lost for words when Chomsky demonsrates how every single occurance of US supported attrocities in East Timor were whitewashed by the mainstream media. Not one time, or ten times, but thousands of times, every time.
Although people like to shout 'conspiracy theory' at anything of this way of thinking, it is quite adeptly researched. As Chomsky remarks at one point in the film 'the mudslinger always wins.'
No, there isn't a room of people deciding what goes out across national media, just a set of unwritten rules which you don't get very far in your career without. Any common sense can tell you that a journalist who criticises US foreign policy powerfully, (rightly or wrongly) the way some do, won't be very popular. On the other hand, one who does the same to official enemies, will be duely rewarded.
There is no conspiracy, there is no paranoia, there is just what really happens, and how we can try to understand that in context of real power.
Look at it with an open mind, and see the way that you look at the world change.
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VINE VOICEon 26 April 2009
This 1992 documentary, made by the same people who made the more recent The Corporation, has finally got a belated release in the U.K. Was it worth the wait? Yes and no.

Manufacturing Consent - Noam Chomsky and the Media is an exploration of the ideas presented in much more rigorous detail in his co-authored book (with Edward S. Herman), Manufacturing Consent - The Political Economy of the Mass Media. Whilst this release dvd is long overdue and most certainly welcome, it's not everything it should have been. The main problem with this documentary is that the filmmakers seem unsure of what to do with all the material they have amassed; Chomsky himself briefly mentions this - that the filmmakers have followed him all over the world giving speeches and that he doesn't know what they are going to do with all the footage, though they probably do.

As a result, instead of getting a really detailed, flowing discussion of, say, the filters of the propaganda model of the mainstream mass media, we get a couple of sentences from Chomsky at a discussion in Holland. Then the film will cut to a public radio interview and we'll get a few more sentences. Then another cut to a university lecture. Perhaps the subject will be finished off with a sentence or two on a video installation at a shopping mall, just to demonstrate that the filmmakers have a basic understanding of irony. This choppy approach to the subject matter does no justice to the articulate subject of the film and similarly, it gives no credit to the viewer for having an attention span longer than a few minutes.

Some interviews with Chomsky on this film are fascinating: mainly the ones in which he is challenged and has to defend his position, thinking on his feet, such as his interview with William F. Buckley. Otherwise, this film gives us too many Chomsky soundbites without providing the evidence which is in his book, which is unfortunate, given Chomsky's disdain for mass media concision.

As if to acknowledge and make amends for these obvious shortcomings, the second disk of this dvd contains the full and unedited programmes of a couple of interviews that are briefly shown on the film, along with a 2007 update discussion with Chomsky.

For all this, Manufacturing Consent is certainly well worth a watch and given that this is on professor Noam Chomsky, the person and the theories, it's almost essential. This film would have to try incredibly hard to be unstimulating but it's just a shame that the documentarians had so little faith either in the audience or their chosen subject matter. Very much a missed opportunity.
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on 26 October 2001
A great film that allows the audience to look at Chomsky's efforts to enlighten the 80% of the population that he claims has no real concept of the powers that lay behind the American media.
An insight to Chomsky's life and influence, you cannot help but admire him as a man and a great free thinker.
With excerpts from many of Chomsky's speeches this film allows the viewer into a world of his long standing efforts to seek truth and the right to express it. You will come away with a head that buzzes!
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on 9 May 2010
Often fascinating, if arguably overlong (167 min of talking heads).

While it only scratches the surface of Chomsky's many ideas, this is a worthwhile introduction to both the man,
and one particular element of his theories - namely that all major US media is only serving the interest of the
corporate/government oligarchy.

Never boring, but sometimes repetitive.

Gets points for being willing to clearly present intelligent opposing points of view, despite the film's obvious
siding with Chomsky. Loses points for stylistically doing some of the very sort of manipulative story-telling
Chomsky is railing against, and for focusing on certain aspects of his ideas too long at the expense of others.

Another DVD where the extras (especially the complete creepy/fascinating face-off between Chomsky and
William Buckley) are sometimes even more exciting than the film itself.
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on 27 February 2010
This is a well considered portrait of a man whose implausible name is globally respected and disdained in equally fervent measure. Noam Chomsky is professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and 'arguably the most important intellectual alive'. Apart from his incomparable contribution to the academic field of linguistics he is perhaps better known for his disarmingly erudite pronouncements and well supported arguments about the political and social culture at large.The success of his rhetoric (apart from very often being self evidently incontrovertible) is that he creates a context in which the listener can think and an environment in which the listener/reader can enjoy insightful and important ideas as their own.

His detractors are usually characterized by bilious invective, aimed not at his ideas but at the man himself, and so offer no intellectual value. For example one William F Buckley Jr's thoughtful response to Chomsky's musings comes as a threat to 'smash him in the Goddamn face'.

This film is bristling with refreshingly original thought and a kind of politically principled, dynamic enthusiasm for the ideas being expressed, that when set against the dumb utterances more commonly heard in public may appear to some as subversive. But then as Wilde once said 'Public opinion exists only where there are no ideas'.

Chomsky's encyclopaedic knowledge is compelling to witness and enables quite complex notions to be framed in tangible simple and pertinent references. No conspiracy theorist, Chomsky's arguments don't speculate over the unknown. Rather they strip away the facade of the known to examine the methods and techniques a modern state employs to maintain general consensus, obedience and complicity from it's people. Never exclusive or elitist, yet fascinatingly persuasive and absorbing this insight into stimulating idea is the perfect antidote to the mindless cheery distractions so endlessly peddled as entertainment today. It's also very reassuring to hear informed articulation of so much you have always had a sneaking suspicion about. You really should see this.
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on 28 November 2017
lovely stuff
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on 29 November 2008
Mark Achbar is the producer and co-director of Canada's highest ever grossing non-fiction documentary, 'The Corporation' (2003), which charts the rise of the joint-stock company from its inception at the beginning of the seventeenth century to its cultural dominance in the present day. Before 'The Corporation', however, Mark Achbar and Peter Wintonick made this superb documentary about Noam Chomsky which - although hard to believe - was also (right up to the release of The Corporation) Canada's highest ever grossing documentary. Those statistics are a great tribute to the intelligence of the people of Canada. In the U.K. it was screened in an abbreviated form on Channel 4 television back in '93/'94.

Winner of numerous international film festival awards, 'Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and The Media' is, in my own opinion, superior to 'The Corporation' and educationally speaking one of the most important documentaries of our time.

Achbar and Wintonick follow Chomsky on his busy schedule of lectures, interviews and seminars across the world and finally put together a brilliantly original film which presents a stimulating, intellectually coherent portrait of Chomsky's thought on the nature of the mass media in modern democracies.

Moving, inspiring and truly life-changing, this documentary has the potentiality of profoundly altering one's view of the world in gaining a better understanding of how it really works as well as what we need to do to make it a better place to live for our children.
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on 2 January 2010
I have used this dvd with my Philosophy class as it covers issues such as Chomsky's universal grammar, political consent etc. Most of the students loved it (with very few exceptions). I thought it looks a bit dated at times, but the content is absolutely excellent. Very worth watching, I recommend it.
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on 18 January 2009
The original documentary, "Manufacturing Consent," (on Disc 1) was useful in introducing certain aspects of Professor Noam Chomsky's views on the media. However, it suffers from choppy editing that makes it very difficult to follow Dr. Chomsky's expressed train of thought on a given subject.

In trying to make the documentary's subject matter more accessible, the film-makers resort to irritating techniques meant to bring levity and relief through various unnecessary segues and supposedly humorous or ironic illustrations of its examples. So, when Dr. Chomsky talks about his theory of how the human brain learns language, the film cuts to showing a small child reading aloud a transcript excerpt of the linguist explaining the said theory. Much more annoying are numerous occasions in which the film makers waste money inputting special effects to make it seem that Dr. Chomsky's talks against corporations and consumerism are being projected on some big screen in a mall or seem that his dismissal of competitive sports as irrational jingoism is being projected on a football stadium screen.

I sympathize with the film makers' desire to compromise with an audience not normally interested in heady discussion. However, the result makes the film less entertaining and -- most importantly -- less accessible than a more forthright version might have been, not more. The decision to constantly supplement what Dr. Chomsky was trying to explain with a superficial layer of visual and auditory stimulation actually works against the film's message by distracting from and interfering with a full understanding of the nuances of the information.

This is not helped by the fact that the film includes no subtitles -- unless translating into English from some foreign language -- or properly-working closed captioning. Another technical issue is that the DVD was clumsily authored. Sometimes, when one presses "menu" during the film, it doesn't navigate to the menu selection, but just stops. It's impossible to skip from Chapter 13 to 14 without having to scan through or go to the main menu; there's also a bit of artifacting, which occurs when digital information is compressed. Yet these are minor quibbles with what's mostly an educational film that shouldn't depend on the highest possible production standards that might have caused the DVD to cost more anyway.

For all its choppiness, the film settles on some specific topics long enough to get more than the general gist of what Dr. Chomsky is saying. A little over an hour into the documentary, the East Timor genocide of the late 1970s is fascinatingly explored; the topic builds upon already sketched theories about the media and why this story was censored in countries responsible for its occurrence. This is powerful stuff. I wish the film had more of such moments, since the scope of Dr. Chomsky's controversial work has surely supplied ample cases of similarly thought-provoking value. Yet, this one alone is enough to save the documentary from simply being a hagiography of its star intellectual, as it often comes across.

Indeed, a major criticism of the film is that the viewer need be very much acquainted with the subjects discussed to be able to understand the hodge-podge references and sound-bytes to which Mr. Chomsky's complicated views on numerous subjects are reduced; the quick summary, edited style of the film actually has the effect of oddly cheerleading this humble protagonist with a slightly propagandistic drumbeat of ridicule toward every critic of his; mostly through media clips, it's inferred such detractors are either corrupt or unreasonable without showing us exactly why by providing the full context. Even if some, such as The New York Times' representatives, are given their fair say, most are dismissively (though sometimes fairly) exposed for their shrill intolerance in contrast to our hero's respectful calm. It's ironic that a film correctly criticizing the mainstream media so heavily for its brevity and bias is caught up in the same problem.

Perhaps, this is why Disc 2 is so welcome and worth 5 stars. Some of the interview segments used in the film with criminal brevity and without needed context are provided in full here: a half hour 1969 episode of "Firing Line" with William Buckley, Jr. discussing various Cold War issues, a 16-minute WGBH interview from 1986 with Dr. Chomsky and the President of Boston University, John Silber, and a half-hour debate with Michel Foucault from 1971, for which there are unfortunately no English subtitles for Mr. Foucault's French; for anyone with a reasonable understanding of French, it might not be too much of a problem, though, and Mr. Chomsky speaks in English. Perhaps most precious are: the 2007 41-minute interview by the film makers of Dr. Chomsky on the relevance of the film and an update of its subject matter, including East Timor; and the hour and a half 2005 Harvard University debate between the pro-Israeli celebrity lawyer Alan Dershowitz and Dr. Chomsky, who argues for a humanizing, fairer view of Palestinians.

I wish the film makers had included another disc's worth of material referenced in the documentary, such as the 11-minute "McNeil/Lehrer Newshour" interview from 1991. It's these longer primary sources that allow for greater understanding of the subtleties of Noam Chomsky's views and it's why Disc 2 easily makes this DVD worth the purchase. If anything, even the documentary sparked enough of my curiosity to make me want to know even more about Noam Chomsky's views than what's presented here, and that was probably the whole point.
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on 31 August 2004
This film is possibly the most eye opening peice of film I've ever seen. I was always a little sceptical about Chomsky, his politics, his opinions, and his intentions. I was also growing increasingly tired of the way the left of politics was using him as a sort of "demi-god".
But this film put an end to those thoughts. Not in a "pro-chomsky propaganda" way, just in the clarity of the editing and film making. the film is beautifully gelled together making perfect sense of the reems and reems of chomsky material out there.
This film also cleared up that horrible, messy affair with that idiotic french "Intellectual".
The "Dutch Debate" has to be the funniest, most entertaining piece of film i've seen in years. And considering it involved Noam Chomsky, that's saying something!
But my favourate segment of this video is it's insight into East Timor. Iterviews with Timorese citizens, Timorese activists, active American/Canadian journalists, as well as Chomshy, make this segment very enlightning even to an avid follower of the situation.
As well as Media, Chomsky (et all) also go into good detail on other issues such as:
Independant Media,
International affairs, (Spanish Civil War, Israel etc.)
Vietnam Protests and Chomsky's beginnings as a Dissenter.
Amoung a lot of other things.
This film really has to be seen to be believed.
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