Anthony Baxter / UK / 2011 / 95 min
If you happen to be Scottish, watching Anthony Baxter’s documentary on Donald Trump‘s Aberdeenshire golf project will probably leave you with conflicting emotions. You may feel pride at the people of Menie’s defiance against the big bad wolf trying to blow their houses down; or pity as you watch a unique wild habitat – supposedly protected by law – ripped up so that rich Americans can spend a day trying to get a small, white ball in to a hole. But predominantly, you’ll most likely feel rage at the jaw-dropping cowardice and venality of Scotland’s politicians and public bodies – both local and national – as they bow their knee to bouffant billionaire’s every whim.
The heart and soul of the film is the people of Menie, who Baxter clearly gets to know well. It’s true that contrasted with Trump, who comes across like a delusional medieval monarch, anyone might appear in a positive light, but the locals really do seem to have a genuine sense of what they’re fighting for: both their way of life and their natural heritage. The biggest thorn in Trump’s side is Farmer/Fisherman Michael Forbes who emerges from the cut-and-paste newspaper descriptions and the appalling slurs cast on him by Trump, as a decent, occasionally crusty and wry individual with no illusions about what he’s up against as the developers use increasingly underhand tactics against him.
The locals are far from alone in their campaign, with environmentalists, academics, a small number of local politicians and artists all on their side. The film documents the uphill struggle faced by individuals when the bodies that should protect them either turn a blind eye or are complicit in the process. Baxter’s occasional Michael Moore-esque tendency to make the film about himself can be an irritant and there’s one incident where it’s difficult not to question his honesty, but ultimately the story he tells of the valiant few of Menie fills you with righteous indignation as well as a deep despair at our political masters.
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