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A movie review of the film The Insider - Essay Example

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A movie review of the film The Insider

The film revolves around two people: Wigand, who was recently fired from a tobacco corporation, and Bergman, a veteran reporter in search of a story. The bombshell that Wigand holds in his possession is the information that Chief Executive Officers of tobacco corporations – The Big Seven – had known all along that tobacco was addictive but had concealed this information from the public. From there, the story unfolded masterfully – telling in gripping fashion how the influences of money and the legal system bore down on Wigand and Bergman, all in order to suppress the truth. Wigand was even the subject of extreme character assassination and despite his attempts to live a quiet life as a professor, was always followed by the story he chose to tell. He became the subject of death threats, the FBI was on his trail, his personal life was in disarray. In the meantime, a bigger context was unfolding. There was a lawsuit poised to be filed against the Big Seven in order to recover what the State paid in medical expenses to treat tobacco-related illnesses. Two legal concepts then emerged from the movie. The first one is the concept of tortuous interference – which basically means that if two parties have an agreement, and a third party induces a party privy to and bound by that agreement to break that agreement, that third party may be made liable for damages. That legal concept is used in connect to the confidential agreement, which is the second legal concept featured in this movie. In the film, Wigand was bound by an iron-clad confidentiality agreement that he was made to sign with his former company. The movie then forces its viewers to reflect: are there limits to a confidentiality agreement? What happens when a confidentiality agreement comes into conflict with public welfare, public health, or even simply the right of the public to know? It is important to situate the movie against the larger social backdrop on which it operates. The movie came out in the late 1990’s – a period in history when tobacco politics had reached a crucial juncture. It was at this period that the impunity of the tobacco firms to lawsuit had ended and for the first time, they were being held liable for the addictive consequences of cigarettes. How dangerous really is tobacco? As early as 1964, the U.S. Surgeon General had come out with a landmark report that spoke of the dangers of smoking on one’s health and issued a categorical statement against its use and its spread. In an article, it was stated that: Each year three million people around the world die from tobacco-related illnesses. In the US, tobacco kills more than 400,000 people each year, and medical care for tobacco-related illnesses costs $50 billion annually. The World Health Organization projects that the yearly death toll from tobacco will rise to 10 million by the 2020swith seven million of those deaths striking economically poor countries. Of the one million US teens hooked each year on cigarettes, one-third or more will eventually die from tobacco-related illnesses. If current trends continue, over 200 million of today's children and teenagers around the world will lose their lives to this addictive product. (InFact: 1997) Despite these findings, the tobacco corporations have won every single legal battle against attempts to hold them accountable for putting public health in jeopardy. It is said that Philip Morris and other tobacco corporati ...Show more
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Summary

The film is a complex commentary on tobacco politics – the power that tobacco corporations wield and their ability to control media outfits, the government, and even the lives of ordinary people. …
A movie review of the film The Insider
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