Anthony Baxter's 2011 documentary You've Been Trumped bills itself on the packaging as a 'David and Goliath tale' and that's a pretty apt comparison. Essentially what this movie covers is a series of events that began in 2006 when Trump decided that since he's filthy rich, he should be able to do whatever he wants. In this particular instance, what he wanted to do was buy up some land in Aberdeen, Scotland and build a fancy golf course. This sounds reasonable enough. Trump is, after all, a real estate and development mogul and as frequently insane and irrational as he can be, there's no denying that the man has a serious knack for such opportunities.
Unfortunately for Trump but fortunately for the rest of us, the good people of the area in question weren't really interested in having Trump come in and bulldoze their homes, many of which have been in their respective families for generations. Sure, to Trump this is just land, the kind of land that he can turn into a resort and make billions off of but to these families, this is home. In Scotland, the roots run deep. On top of that, the area that Trump wants to build on is home to a unique and fairly fragile eco-system, one that would likely be destroyed if industry were to move in and replace what's existed there peacefully for centuries. So as billionaire Trump buys up as much of the land around as he can, and the small group of humble locals stand their ground, we find our conflict, our David and our Goliath, if you will.
This is a fascinating film on a few different levels. The most obvious is Donald Trump himself. It'd be tough to name a more megalomaniacal, selfish, greed obsessed man in this day and age but Trump is exactly that. He cares about money, he cares about himself, he cares about profit and he cares about winning - all to feed his ego. Never mind what his plans would do to the environment and the people who live there, he wants what he wants and his not insignificant influence can be far reaching. An example of this? The Scottish government actually reverses some laws protecting the area in order to give Trump the legal approval he needs to move forward with his plan. And so he does. His men bulldoze massive mounds of dirt right up to property lines. They cut off power and water and they proceed to make life Hell for the people who have the wherewithal to stand up to him. In turn, the locals paint slogans like 'no golf course' on the side of a barn. It seems impossible that they would be able to win the day, and as Baxter goes about documenting all of this, police interaction the lands him in some hot water would seem to solidify the impossibility of any sort of happy ending.
And yet these wonderfully stubborn Scots persist, while Trump, on the other hand, tries to decide if he should run for President. A fisherman named Michael Forbes is the most vocal of the resistors, one of those aforementioned residents whose power and water supply mysteriously stopped working while all of this was going on. He inspired other locals to march, to protest, to speak up and to push back against Trump's bully tactics and where others took Trump's offers, Forbes stood firm. Trump trash talked them, referred to those who wouldn't sell out to him as pigs, relegating them to some sort of class he obviously felt was beneath him. Cops and politicians were no help.
The movie is a bit rough around the edges in terms of presentation as so much of it was shot in the fly, not to mention the fact that it's been culled from different sources like TV clips and footage shot by the residents themselves. None of this really takes anything away from the story that the movie tells, however, and the soundtrack from Jonsi and Sigur Ros adds a bit of polish here and there. Baxter is smart enough to let the movie do the talking for him. There's no narration here, Trump exposes his true nature with his own words as do some of the politicians involved in the events. It results in a movie with a lot of personality, an uplifting piece that shows that sometimes it is worth trying to stand up for what's right no matter the odds. This is an excellent documentary and one absolutely worth seeing.
The 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer on the DVD does as good a job as it probably can with the source material that this documentary was made from. Some footage is nice and crisp, other shots are soft or show compression. Overall though, everything is perfectly watchable. Colors look great and detail is okay for what it is. This isn't the type of movie you watch for pristine video quality as aspects of it were shot almost guerilla style, but this transfer gets the job done.
The English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix is on par with the video - sometimes it's nice and clear, other times it's not, falling victim to wind noise or background noise. Again, it's the nature of the beast as far as a movie like this goes. The bulk of it sounds fine. No alternate language or subtitles are provided but English closed captioning is on hand for those who need or want it.
Extras include two and a half minutes of some follow up footage that documents the opening of the golf course and a one minute bonus clip showing Trump's trip to Scottish Parliament where he was invited to give testimony against Winds Farm. There's also an amusing one and a half minute long clip where the Occupy Wall Street protestors project the trailer for You've Been Trumped onto the walls of Manhattan's Trump Tower. Director Anthony Baxter also shows up to discuss the movie on the TV series Moyers & Company, where he's interviewed by Bill Moyers for just under half an hour about his experiences. The movie's trailer, menus and chapter selection are also provided.
Often times as hilarious as it is genuinely uplifting and inspiring, You've Been Trumped is a telling expose on the perils of greed and ego. A very well made film and quite a captivating watch, Docurama brings it to DVD in as nice a shape as it's likely ever going to be seen in and with a few decent extras as well. Recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.