CAPITALISM: A Love Story
NOTE: This spoiler was sent in by John H. This is not a scene by scene account, but does capture most of the major content of the film
The film opens with a warning that people with heart conditions and small children should leave the theater.
The opening credits feature a series of bank robberies captured by close circuit cameras.
The opening sequence is an educational-style film about the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. Moore intercuts scenes from contemporary popular culture and politics to emphasize similarities between ancient Rome and the current United States.
Moore then asks how future societies will remember the United States...
Will it be from You-Tube videos about cats flushing toilets, or will it be about foreclosures?
He cuts to a home video shot by a couple as sheriff's deputies bust into their homes to evict them.
Then he moves to Detroit, where people are being evicted from their homes.
He then interviews a couple in Peoria, who have lost their home in a foreclosure to Citibank. They believed they had thirty days to move out of their home, but are informed by the sheriff that the eviction is sooner than they thought. (Later in the film, they are forced to burn many of their personal possessions to meet the deadline the bank sets. The Peoria couple receives $1000 for being forced to move out their home).
Moore interviews workers at Republic Windows and Doors in Chicago, who held a sit down strike to protest Citibank's refusal to provide their employer with loans, leaving the workers high and dry as the company shut down.
Moore discusses his childhood with his father, who was a worker at AC Delco in Flint, Michigan for 33 years. The visit the site of the former plant, which is now a giant empty field filled with torn-down buildings.
This leads to a sequence on the rise of the Middle Class from the 1940s through the 1970s, all set to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Moore interrupts with Jimmy Carter warning about the rise of greed and consumer.
"What a downer!" he complains "We need a new sheriff."
Moore reviews how Reagan shifted the economy to corporate control during the 1980s, gutting the labor movement and destroying much of the industrial infrastructure of the United States. And much of it was done to profit many of the largest corporations in the United States, which were already enormously profitable in the 1980s.
Moore reviews numerous statistics regarding the economy between 1980 and the present, such as stagnant wages, increasing CEO salaries, the rise in personal debt and bankruptcies, the increase in the use of anti-depressants, and how Wall Street went up and up while the rest of the country suffered.
Moore has a segment on "Dead Peasant" policies, life insurance policies that companies take out on their employees, with hopes that enough of them will die off to make it profitable. He talks to a woman in Texas whose husband died of cancer, and whose employer made $5 million off his death. He also talks to a former associate of Wal-Mart whose wife died of asthma; Wal-Mart made $81,000 off her death, just one of 350,000 employees they insured during the 1990s.
He talks to an attorney who has been investigating "Dead Peasant" policies and notes that many of the largest and wealthiest corporations in the United States take out life insurance on employees.
Moore then moves to the scandal of juvenile prisons in Pennsylvania. He interviews several teenagers who spent months in jail over minor infractions, due to the greed of a corrupt judge who was taking kickbacks from executives who ran a juvenile detention facility called PA Child Care. The judge would send them away, and the COMPANY would decide how long the kids would stay before they were "rehabilitated." Fortunately, the two judges involved are now in prison themselves.
Moore interviews several Catholic priests about the question of whether Capitalism is evil. Both condemn Capitalism in no uncertain terms. Moore also speaks with Thomas Gumbleton, the archbishop of Detroit, and one of the more outspoken critics of Capitalism in the US. Moore then takes several scenes from the film "Jesus of Nazareth" and dubs Jesus delivering lines such as "Maximize Profit" and "Deregulate the banking industry". Moore then discusses how the mantra of capitalism as good and consistent with Christian values has been sold as propaganda.
Moore discusses the mortgage/housing crisis, as has several economic experts attempt to explain how derivatives work. All of them eventually wind up saying "Let me start again" as they find it impossible to explain.
Moore interviews a former banking executive who gives a fascinating explanation of the stock market crisis by comparing it to a dam with a crumbling structure. As he notes, when the dam bursts, it looks like it takes a few minutes, but it has been rotting from inside for several years.
Moore speaks with an executive from Countrywide Insurance, who handled special accounts for FOAs - "Friends of Angelo", Angelo being Angelo Mozello, the CEO Countrywide. He notes that he gave special favors to many of the most powerful political figures in the country, including HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson and Senators Kent Conrad and Chris Dodd.
Moore then moves into the banking bailout, starting with the Bush speech to convince Congress that the end of the world was imminent. Moore adds graphics to the background for a hilarious sequence that points out exactly how absurd Bush's scare tactics were. Moore then discusses the bailout with several members of Congress on Capitol Hill.
The star of the segment is Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), who blasts the tactics of the Bush administration and winds up agreed with Moore that the bailout was a "financial coup d'etat." Later in the film, Moore features Kaptur calling on people who have been evicted to resist and remain in the homes.
Moore speaks with Elizabeth Warren, the congressional oversight person on the bailout, who notes that because Congress made no real demands on the banks, she has little power to force the banks to return the money. Moore than travels to Wall Street where he attempts to retrieve the money and make citizens arrests of executives at AIG and other firms.
Near the end, Moore focuses on several positive stories: The sheriff in Detroit who refuses to evict people from their homes, a family in Miami who reoccupies the home they have been evicted from, and the victory of the workers at Republic Windows.
The film closes with remarkable footage of Franklin Roosevelt talking about a Second Bill of Rights for the American people in 1944. He calls from the right to a job, the right to health care, the right to education. Moore notes that FDR died in 1945, and 65 years later, his call for a more just society remains unfulfilled. "Instead we got this" notes Moore.... and shows the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Moore notes that it is never corporate executives like the guys at AIG, or the Bernie Madoffs who are left to die.
"I refuse to live in a country like this anymore... and I'm not leaving" states Moore.
The film closes with Moore using crime scene tape to surround buildings on Wall Street, and a request to join him in abolish Capitalism. "It is evil, and you cannot regulate evil," argues Moore.
During the credits, he plays "The Internationale" and "They Laid Jesus Christ in the Grave"