Food Inc. Review.

Hello Everyone,

Here is a film review for a documentary named, Food Inc, and was screened during one of my MFA classes back in 2009:

When we buy foods at a local grocery store, we tend to see the word “fresh” with the picture of a farm or farmer on a sign hanging above the food products. We take this as a stamp of approval by the supermarket and willingly purchase the food product without even realizing the amount of labor and processing that product went through. In the film, Food Inc., director Robert Kenner takes on a journey through food industry and reveals just who is providing our food for us and how they do it. Kenner exposes the horrors of the food industry from genetically modifying chickens to have bigger breasts to feeding livestock chemical enriched feed, which thereby creates new strains of E. Coli bacteria. Kenner, however, does not lose sight of the human aspect of the industry where illegal immigrants are forced to work long hours with little or no pay and innocent people end up dying from E.Coli strains in their processed meat.

The way Robert Kenner divided each of the sequences in the film was simple. He used moving titles to tell the audience what the subject of each sequence was. For example, the first sequence in the film was called “Fast Food to all Food”, in which Kenner shows the squalid living conditions of chickens in industrially owned farms and how the fast food industry profits from genetically modifying the chickens to make their breasts larger so that they can get a bigger cut of white meat from each chicken. His next sequence was titled “A Cornucopia of Choices”, where Kenner covers the illusion of diversity in the food products of supermarkets and that most of these products are corn based. Separating each scene with moving titles was an excellent idea on Kenner’s part, because it leaves the audience intrigued about the topic of the upcoming sequence. In each sequence of the film, Kenner separates the scenes visually through the use of wide-angle aerial shots. One example of an aerial shot in the film occurs in the second sequence, where Michael Pollan is describing how corn is being shipped around the country to CAFO’s (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations). While Pollan is talking about the shipping methods, Kenner shows an aerial shot of a moving train and when Pollan talks about the CAFO’s being the destination of the corn, Kenner then cuts to an aerial shot of a CAFO field.

In terms of its production value, the film was well shot using little artificial lighting and consisting of mostly hand-held shots.   The little use of artificial lighting and hand-held camera shots are extremely important in an activist documentary, because they convey a sense of realism not only for the film, but also for the message that the film is trying to convey. The natural lighting and the hand-held camera shots, therefore, help the audience to understand that the message of the film is real and does impact their lives. In Food Inc., the hand-held camerawork and natural lighting impacted me, because the realism they conveyed showed me that the horrors of the food industry are real and can hurt or even kill people. A second production value, which stood out in the film was the animation used in a couple scenes in the film. One example of an animation used in the film appears in the second sequence where Kenner explains that all of our food products are corn based. This scene is very problematic due to all of the facts and information being presented in the voice over, but Kenner intercuts the voice over with an animation of a corn kernel morphing into different snack products such as chips, cereal, candy, etc… The animation makes the voice over more interesting, because it visually lists most of the food products that have corn in them, therefore, making the information presented in the scene easier to understand.

Food, Inc is the best film screened this semester, mostly due in part to the film’s strong story structure.   Robert Kenner’s story structure is extremely well organized, because Kenner starts out the film by giving the audience a visual tour inside unsanitary corporately owned farms, which raises the livestock and grows the vegetables used in our food products. Then he moves into the harm that industrial farming methods have on the animals and plants being raised on the farm. Finally, he ends with the harm that industrial farming methods have had on humans. The final segments of the film, which deal with the cost to human health by these food products, become very personal not just for the subjects, but for the director as well. In the scene where Kenner is interviewing the mother of a young boy who died from eating a hamburger infected with E.Coli, the director can be heard asking a personal question off camera. The mother responds by asking the director why he would ask such a question and she also calls him “Robby.” By calling him Robby, the mother conveys her sense of comfort around the director, which means that their relationship is much more comfortable than just being a director and subject relationship. Having a more comfortable relationship with a director portrays the director as being more open and honest with the people around them and this is the case with Robert Kenner’s film.




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