By Glenn Erickson
Globalization is a big topic that could use a public debate, especially by qualified and knowledgeable people. Chilling advocacy documentaries like The Corporation tell horror stories about 'open markets' resulting in Bolivian financial representatives leasing the water rights for an entire province to an American firm, which intended to charge Bolivians for the right to drink water on their own land.
First Run Features' Where is the World Going, Mr. Stiglitz? is not misleadingly packaged -- nowhere on the box does it say that it is an organized documentary -- but a viewer can be forgiven for being surprised when the show turns out to be six solid hours of a man simply talking to the camera. The disc is a series of recorded lectures by Mr. Stiglitz, who speaks interminably for minutes at a time without any interruption or organization to tell us what topic he's addressing beyond the chapter stops (one roughly every twenty minutes). Frankly, this is the kind of material that would be better read in a book, where it wouldn't be subject to Mr. Stiglitz's tendency to repeat himself. I tried out the first chapter and heard him re-state at least three times that Globalization has been unequally advantageous to wealthy countries over poor countries.
There is obviously some important information here, as Mr. Stiglitz is uncommonly qualified to speak on the Globalization issue. He's a Nobel Prize winner for Economics, a best-selling author (Globalization and its Discontents) and was a chief Economist at the World Bank in addition to serving as a Professor at a fistful of top colleges. He knows whereof he speaks, and it can be said that his explanations are pitched at a level that most of us can understand. We just wish that his wisdom were better organized. For starters, he launches right into the subject of Globalization without defining what it is or how it got started, which leaves many of us lost before we've even started. After seeing Where is the World Going, Mr. Stiglitz? viewers ought to be able to take an essay test and receive college credit. The disc is an upscale version of the class notes videos available for some college lecturers, should a student miss a class.
The 380-minute 'program' is spread across two discs. The extras offered are text bios on Stiglitz as well as some additional MP3 audio files for download. The image and audio are clear, although we're somewhat amused to see creative credits offered for the no-frills program. Where is the World Going, Mr. Stiglitz? is going to be rough sledding for the average viewer, although it might be an ideal gift for a budding economist. A very serious budding economist.