Greed is good.
At least that’s what Oliver Stone’s most infamous cinematic incarnation espoused on the streets of wall.
But, to judge from his love of documenting all things socialist South of the Border, it’s probably not a sentiment Stone buys into.
South of the Border is Stone’s latest release and, as if living up to the promise of his name, he rolled into London last week for a promotional tour of a film he didn’t expect to get this far.
Stone’s original ambition reached no further than releasing his interview with president Hugo Chavez to Venezuela’s local TV networks.
Yet after meeting Chavez, and having debunked the demonisation perpetuated by an increasingly paranoid and reactionary section of the American media for himself, Stone was sufficiently inspired to embark upon a political road movie that tells the story of neighbouring South American countries that have since elected socialist governments in the wake of Chavez’s success.
South of the Border opens with some witless banter between three Stepford coiffed TV presenters that neatly establishes both their collective inability to read from an autocue, as well as confirming that misinformation delivered through America’s modern media represents a far greater threat to their way of life than socialism ever could.
Following a brief history of Chavez’s rise to power, including a failed coup d’état’s committed by and against him, the direction settles into a traditional documentary format consisting of one on one shaky-cam interviews between Stone and his subjects, those ubiquitous talking head shots and stock news footage.
The most pertinent revelation of which was the tacit support from the west, predominantly America and Spain, for Pedro Carmona’s illegal and undemocratic coup of Venezuela in 1992.
A coup which lasted less than 48 hours, for that was all it took for the Venezuelan people to march upon the presidential Palacio de Miraflores and demand the man they elected be reinstalled.
Interviews with democratically elected socialist presidents of Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Ecuador and – of course – Cuba followed, illustrating the social reform sweeping through this continent and the positive effect this is having on the poorest people of these countries.
A revelation conspicuous by its absence from the majority of western media outlets I’ve encountered.
And this is South of the Border’s raison d’être; to raise awareness of events that have taken place in South America over the last decade that our media seem reluctant to cover.
As with any film that chooses to represent one side of an argument over another, South of the Border leaves itself open to accusations of partisanship.
It’s difficult to accept any director, or anyone for that matter, wouldn’t be swayed by the swathe of palatial hospitality granted to them when given such access to the intimate trappings of national office.
Perhaps South of the Border would have benefitted from granting President Barack Obama, or even former incumbent George W Bush, an interview in the name of even handedness.
But, in a wider context, it makes sense to marginalise western views that its intended audience would already be familiar with to give a platform to the underrepresented ideas of modern South American politics.
We can then decide for ourselves what we believe for, much to the chagrin of Bacchus, truth lies in discourse.
After the film Stone talked of his ongoing project, The Secret History of America, and his hopes that this will leave a lasting legacy for Americans bombarded with one eyed interpretations of their own history.
For a man who has achieved so much, you could accuse Stone of being greedy.
But perhaps greed can be good after all.