McLibel: Two Worlds Collide

By Phil Moore

Documentary films with a political bent have enjoyed continued successes over the last year, and in this spirit Musicalbear warmly receives McLibel: Two Worlds Collide by director Franny Armstrong. Originally completed in 1997, the film has been re-released due to recent developments in the extraordinary saga that has been billed as the ‘the biggest corporate PR disaster in history’.

Once upon a time a number of members from a group called London Greenpeace were handing out leaflets – ‘what’s wrong with McDonalds’ – making claims about the pernicious nature behind Ronald McDonald’s seemingly benign smile. McDonald's caught wind of these accusations and didn’t like it. As London Greenpeace were an unincorporated organisation, in order for McDonald's to eliminate the leaflet and its distribution, they had to find individuals and names.

Small fry for the notoriously litigious McDonald's… or so they thought. Two members of the group – Helen Steel and Dave Morris – refused to back down and apologise. What ensued has entered the annals of the legal world as the longest and protracted civil court case – 314 days spent in court over the course of seven years,

Defending the claims made, evidence cited by David and Helen is presented throughout the film. The most chilling aspect of McDonald’s burger empire is the targeting of children in their advertising, and in one surreal moment one of Ronald McDonald’s pesky incarnations visits the very play school that Dave’s son attends. The personal indeed becomes the political.

As the court case drags on the burger behemoth realises that things are not so simple, and we hear, courtesy of a secret recording, McDonald’s representatives trying to settle things out of court, in true Hollywood bravado style.

With the success of Eric Schlosser’s book Fast Food Nation and Jamie Oliver’s TV show Jamie’s School Dinners, health and politics has become prominent on the menu. McLibel: Two Worlds Collide addresses the concerns of a public with a huge fast-food chain, but it also shows how two people, whose purity of conviction and desire for justice enabled them to take on a corporate Goliath and in it’s own modest little way, the film reminds us of the impact individuals can make.
Contributors retain the copyright to their own contributions. Everything else is copyright © Spannered 2015.
Please do not copy whole articles: instead, copy a bit and link to the rest. Thanks!