Ethos (2011) Poster

(I) (2011)

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Important lesson
alantas22 April 2012
Yes, we have seen these arguments, theories and facts before, yet it seems people are unable to learn them. They rather watch Discovery Channel which instead of showing documentaries of discoveries, is a day long automobile commercial (not to mention the much worse channels out there). So this kind of documentary can't be done too many times. It must be repeated until it sinks in and people starting to make their decisions with responsibility. And it also would help if more people see it. The most positive aspects of this film are:

-Its narrative isn't too complex and strictly sticks to the essentials -it hasn't got extra ideology in it like Zeitgeist (however its style is very similar).

-It offers at the end a very good solution since not much else you can do to affect things. But if you are not an obsessive consumer and have a common sense, you have probably already figured that out.

-Woody Harrelson is a great host

Looking forward to the day when a documentary like this will be broadcast on major prime time televisions. I know it's naive because they are all owned by corporations or the state (which is owned by corporations). So the best thing is to spread the word. Very good documentary, highly recommended.
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An glimpse of where the US is heading as a democratic society in the 21st century, and how we got here
shuback23 February 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Why is the world the way it is now, especially the US? From consumerism, wastefulness, the federal banking system, the war on terror and RFID chips that are to come. The people have the power to overcome the corporations and governments, their Achilles heel is that we the consumer have the buying power, and can choose what not to buy and run them out of business. What will we choose? Woody Harrelson hosts, supported by thought provoking insight by Noam Chomsky on how society is mislead and deceived by the politicians and media into shaping our thoughts, desires, and actions. No bias is shown in the documentary toward a socialist or anti-capitalist state.
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People fail to realize that something like this helps the change.
gtsmurfo20 February 2014
You constantly see this theme portrayed throughout the conspiracy realm. I grew up with the full overwhelming belief that this was all gibberish. My ignorance has been awakened do to the fact that, I make judgments primarily on the observations of many. This film is a reference that has been repeated by other films. Without hearing these similar brushed off and I would continue to live my life without guilt. This film is amazing and continues to help burn these issues in to the brains of people without gilt. Those of you who have rated this film on the basis of copying others are only damping the processes of change. You should be rating this with strength to help those blind to see clearly and help push this nation through change. Social observation is hindered do to the rating process. Those films with low rating will never reach the eyes of many. Keep this in mind when you dampen the process.

Much thanks and love, Change will come.
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Intriguing documentary WORTH SEEING! even for novices
jjen8916 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I stumbled across this documentary online because it was free to watch on their official site, as well as on youtube. I would say my knowledge on the US political system is basic, but I'm interested in building upon it, more than what the big media corporations feed us. Because of that reason, Ethos was a delight seeing. It captivated my interest right away, especially when Woody Harrelson started narrating lol. I knew that he's a good actor but seeing him in this docu made me separate the actor from the "White Men Can't Jump" character.

It touched on a few subjects like the environment, capitalism influencing our gov't, role of big businesses in politics, Sept 11, propaganda, apathy in the public, among other juicy topics. With a running time of 52 mins (Director's Cut is 72 mins), it piqued and kept my interest with a non-sluggish pace. More importantly, after seeing the movie, Ethos motivated me to learn more so I checked out the official Ethos website which had some helpful links and recommendations.

It had several good messages, and one that I remember most vividly is that consumers have power/voice/influence in how businesses conduct their business. Choosing to buy from a socially-conscious business versus a company that isn't sends a message to both companies, one of support, the other of disapproval.

I rated this 9/10 because it was one of my favorite documentaries, I don't regret seeing it, and I recommended it to friends.
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Our Corporate politics...
poe42616 June 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Politicians are the Televangelists of the Corporate World: they preach what their financial backers want them to preach (no matter HOW f***ing stupid); this is one of the great Givens of the twenty-first century (which often calls to mind the a**-backward thinking of the Middle Ages). Compilation or not, ETHOS gets its message across most effectively (or the message(s) of the filmmakers whose documentaries comprise the various segments of this one...). I must admit, though, that the admonition to withhold one's financial support of the various criminal enterprises (i.e.; the corporations) profiled herein seems just a tad too late (since-the-second-World-War too late): the REAL damage has already been done- and it was done in large part because We didn't stand up and say ENOUGH! when there was still time to salvage something. I try to be optimistic. STAR TREK (the original series) and comic books taught me that We as a Species could change the world (and, perhaps, the Universe) for the Better. But I'm convinced at this point that we blew it. We're well on our way to the next "Extinction Event," and we did it to ourselves. GOP (Geriatric Older People) TV (Fox "News") played a BIG part in it: the ME (Moneyed Elite) of Reagan's "Mourning in America" have swayed so many simple-minded saps that the Flat Earthers have had The Final Say and it's "No!" to Science and "No!" to Common Sense and it'll STAY that way 'til we're all sucked under. Consider: The Corporate News (as far as I can tell) has made no mention of a recent Friendly Fire incident in which U.$. $oldier$ who had been ambushed called in a Drone strike and were themselves killed by said Drone. And how many newscasters made mention of the fact that there have been (as of this writing) 75 school shootings (or mass shootings, I forget which) since Newtown? Did anyone hear about Lafeyette, CO, where The People PREVENTED fracking by drawing up their own Community Bill of Rights to combat corporations? (The corporations stand poised to rape this area as I write: seismic testing has begun.) Oh, and one last item: Tony "The NitBrit" Blair claims that the current troubles in Iraq "have nothing to do with the Iraq War." He thinks it's an easy sell because the U.$.-backed dictator, the late Saddam Hussein, was such a b****** that some people STILL believe the war was about Weapons of Mass Destruction (which totally ignores the fact that plans had been drawn up to divide Iraq's oil resources a full DECADE before the U.$. invasion). End of screed.
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Defining Politics
hippie-9886921 February 2016
I recently viewed ETHOS and it just increased my lack of trust in big business and government practices.

Not too long ago some friends and I were discussing many topics and politics came up. We were looking for a brief but accurate description of politics.

We didn't find one.

I went to sleep still thinking about this.

I woke up three hours later with an acronym: Persons Of Low Integrity Talking In CircleS

Does this work?
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An Attempt To Teach Left Wing Analysis To Right Wing Conspiracists
meddlecore19 February 2014
Ethos is an interesting little DIY documentary project- a sort of political zeitgeist from the perspective of the left. It is hosted by Woody Harrelson, and is mainly a compilation of interviews and ideas from commentators on both the right and the left. These ideas are compiled into segments that reflect upon the political analyses of Chomsky, Zinn and others....analyses that often find themselves under the umbrella of "conspiracy theories".

Personally, I liked this film because it aligns very closely to my own political observations and analysis...and manages to explain some of these understandings that are central to holding such a worldview, in a succinct way that even idiot right-wingers can understand. Any leftie-anarchist type who has ever hung out and conversed with the people over at ConCen for any period of time....will know what I'm talking about.

What makes this film particularly interesting though, is that it dips into legit observations from both the left and right, and compiles them into an argument that is directed at the very right wing conspiracy theorists it is inherently critical of, in a brazen attempt to enlighten them about left-political analysis...and bring them over to our side in the process.

McGrain does this by looking at financial/banking conspiracies and how they tie in with the political elite, who exploit the media to control the masses (using interviews with people like ron paul, g.e. griffin, russo etc to illustrate this). Something the right fully understands. But then he juxtaposes these ideas with left wing criticism from people like Chomsky, Zinn, and Naomi Klein, who provide a critique of where the right goes wrong- and where the left and right become fragmented from one another (at least in the conspiracy realm, at which this doc is clearly directed)- Rothbardian ultra-Libertarianism.

By doing this, he is brazenly attempting to enlighten these right wing viewers about the nature of left wing political analysis. I'd argue he does this pretty effectively, but that's likely because he's arguing the exact same thing that I, myself, I'm probably biased on that front.

In the end, though, one idea is put forth, which can be embraced by both the left and right, and used to empower us all....this is the idea of consumer action. Political activism via how and where you spend your money. These libertarian oriented actors only speak one language and that is the almighty buck. Any way that you can affect their bottom line is a realm which you, as an individual in a capitalist world, do have power. So use it. Don't like what a company or person is doing? Don't direct any money into their coiffures. Take a stand and spend ethically.

Remember Kids.....Don't Vote....Revolt. This is a Good way to start.
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Yes, you have seen and heard this before
fistfootface26 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
First of all, I have been watching a few of these so called "conspiracy" documentaries recently and the little description piqued my interest.

Once the film gets going, you will recognize interviews lifted from "The Corporation" as well as pieces of the "Zeitgeist" series and many other sources. These didn't present any new information or even try to offer a different opinion.

The narration often switched from a pleasant accented voice, to Woody Harrelson standing in front of a set of looped T.V screens.???

This film failed to present any new information and assumed the viewer was unaware of any information on the subjects discussed.

I am eagerly waiting for the film that offers REAL solutions to these issues. We all know the problems we face as a society. When are we going to stop making documentaries about the corruption and finally take a stand against it? The hopeless nature of this film was very discouraging.
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Shaun_of_the_Dude27 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I watched this documentary believing that it would unfold some of the recent struggles that Democracy has stumbled on, on it's long rocky path. With the recent upsurges and cries for Democracy across Arabian and north African states, you would think that documentarians would be foaming at the mouth to cover the current shifting political movements.

This documentary uncovers nothing really new and it doesn't challenge any political paradigms that haven't been challenged before. All this movie does is reboot past documentaries with a familiar face at the helm, in the guise of Woody.

A lot of the stock in this film is taken directly from other documentaries, much like Zeitgeist, Endgame, Esoteric Agenda so on a so forth. Also, the makers have cleverly used the "Voice of God" effect, by having a Northern Irish voice-over, do most of the delivery.

I am a big advocate for big event documentaries, which are spewing out of the internet, due to technological advances. However, what I don't like is imitation and reproduction. Half a million dollars that went into this film could easily prop my media company up for at least 10 years and produce some new arguments and conclusions for debate and for the new emergence of "media driven democracy".

So my message to watchers would be to watch past documentaries and my message to the financiers would be to, "Get in touch!".
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Good, But Unfocused
gavin694230 July 2013
Hosted by twice Oscar nominated actor Woody Harrelson, Ethos explores the mechanisms in our systems that work against democracy, the environment and our own personal liberty.

Harrelson says "it would be illogical to expect politicians to change a system that puts them in power". True, but only if we accept that the system is so far gone that it cannot be changed. Bernie Sanders is a case in point, showing that (although rare) dissident voices can get into the ring.

Another reviewer says the problem with this documentary is that it is clipped from other documentaries. That does seem to be a problem, on top of Harrelson's desire to suggest conspiracy theories are sometimes real.

The film has a big reliance on Chomsky, including his insights into Bernays and Walter Lippmann. While Chomsky is in here, it seems (like everyone else) his footage was taken from other sources. He would have been more than happy to appear for five minutes to discuss these topics...
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Important stuff we've seen before
targa916 August 2012
After about 20 minutes of watching, I realize I've seen much of this stuff before. If you've seen "The Corporation" or "Zeitgeist" or other documentaries, then this film seems like a hodge-podge of them. I was disappointed and shut it off 60% through because I honestly thought I had seen it before. Then I come to IMDb and others are saying the same thing: it's an important, yet unoriginal and incomplete documentary. The part about the Federal Reserve and the central bank does enough to just pique your interest, but doesn't tell us who these guys are (Woody himself says "we don't know who these guys are" and we don't find out in the film, either). It just leaves us at the Great Depression, how the Warburgs, JPMorgan, Rothschilds, and Rockefellers had a hand in creating an international debt system. Yet there was no modern-day examples. I didn't get to the part where they talk about how we can change society, however, in a "simple yet effective way". I wonder what they proposed?
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Dthomasf13 October 2020
Anti-capitalist trash with broadly framed opinions and speculation from various authors, journalists and even a brief spot for Bernie Sanders.

I'm embarrassed for Woody for being associated with this..
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The Red Pill
rabusa-433304 June 2020
This reminded me of the Matrix where by the end of the movie we feared computers and technology taking over our minds. In reality, computers in the matrix are a metaphor for corporations.

This was very enlightening and should be available to everyone.

The fact that taking action at the end of this documentary required us to go to a website that no longer exist gives credibility to the message. Who will be the next strong leader to organize a strategy for true democracy and freedom?
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Well... look where we are now..
skyfiremail8 April 2020
8 years after this film was made....The richest man in the world is president. We have a global "pandemic"... Oh and we are taken on venezuela!.. "war on drugs" ...not much off...
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Extremely important info somewhat shoddily delivered.
justin-209-1527969 June 2012
This movie has a great amount of valuable information for every person in America. Some people are already hip but this film still has a wealth of information about what's going wrong with our World and our Country. It definitely made me want to to take action against the injustice presented here.

My specific criticism is about some of the shooting, editing and post-production work. The filmmakers chose to use the same shots over and over again in some sequences. They wrote the Woody Harrelson portions in a way that they would have to consistently fade in and out practically mid-sentence. That's poor form. There are many sequences that have footage both stretched horizontally and vertically. That again is just laziness. There are several other examples. I love the content and the idea behind the film I just wish they would've tried a little harder on the editing side.
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mesahippychic0315 May 2012
Warning: Spoilers
This documentary is blatantly taking from a whole host of other documentaries! There is nothing original about it, other than Woody Harrelson narrating it. This is a disgrace to film making. Go watch "The Corporation" which is where he took 85% of his footage from. What the documentary field needs is not reproductions of already done documentaries with terrible voice over narration by the director- try something NEW!!! This is seriously a joke of what it takes to make a true documentary. I would know because I'm a producer. I know the true hard work that goes into film making. This is a waste of time, go support the real film makers that don't STEAL.
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Half A Million Dollars For A Tin Foil Hat !
Theo Robertson4 April 2014
According to the IMDb this documentary cost $500,000 . I wonder where the money spent on it went ? Reading some of the user comments it seems that it's basically a few segments from other documentaries so where'd the money go ? Was it Woody Harrelson's appearance fee ? Did it go to other documentary makers for using their clips ? Or did it go to copyright lawyers who sued Peter McGrain for using their clients documentary without their permission ? I think we should be told

As it is ETHOS is one of these documentaries screaming at their audience that democracy isn't all it's cracked up to be and that capitalism is a rather amoral economic system . Next thing you know you'll be watching an earth shattering documentary that the Pope is Catholic and bears poo in a wood . It's vaguely structured in to several segments

1 ) We don't live in a democracy . As you might expect big names like Noam Chomsky and Tony Benn are wheeled out . Well not wheeled out per se because they appear in clips from other interviews they gave to other interviewers . Tony Benn by the way died recently and people on the political left like Michael Foot had nothing good to say about him when he was alive and other people on the left like Denis Healy and Neil Kinnock have nothing good to say about him now that he's dead . There's also a very obvious blunder at the start when a speaker says both the Democrats and the Republicans want to keep Cold War defence spending but this laughably untrue . Obama just a couple of weeks ago announced future defence cuts that will see the US Army lose 70,000 soldiers . With these cuts the American military will shrink to its lowest figure since 1941 . Are we to honestly believe American defence budgets in the 2020s will be similar to that of the 1960s when America was involved in Vietnam ?

2 ) Corporate companies in order to gain control of "the Earth's resources is the cause of so much wars in the world today as you will see " Except we don't get to see these wars . I don't think Iraq would have got invaded by an Anglo-American coalition if it didn't have oil but if you're making multiple claims it helps if you give a few examples

3 ) The media are controlled by these unseen corporate forces . Really ? Funny how if these unseen corporate all powerful companies are controlling the media it seems that they're unable to stop the dislike of corporate capitalism amongst the public . Apparently this marketing media know what buttons to push in order to make us buy a product ! Wow that must be why I've spent a fortune on tampons

And so this documentary continues . Or to be more accurate this " documentary " continues stealing another clip from someone elses documentary in an barely disguised attempt to get us all to buy a tin foil helmet . One even starts to feel sorry for Harrelson as he spouts out another dubious theory and one wonders if he's been told the whole truth and was told he was hosting a socially conscious , environmentally friendly documentary rather than a loony conspiracy theory that this deranged pseudo documentary is . Mind you if someone gave me $500,000 I'd probably do the same - without spending a penny on tin foil hats
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Nothing original here, only excerpts from other documentaries...
ryandannar7 November 2012
How do you rate a film like this? As a documentary, it makes a number of relevant points about the biggest problems within the structure of our society. Unfortunately, none of this material is new. Most of it is lifted directly from 2003's excellent documentary, "The Corporation" ( v=SnE8D3tgZ5c), and much is also lifted from "Zeitgeist 2" ( The only thing original to "Ethos" is Woody Harrelson's presence.

When I say that most of this film's material is "lifted" from other films, I really mean "excerpted," or "plagarized." Do not watch this film expecting it to be an original creation. Contrarily to how it bills itself, it is in fact a compilation of other documentaries.

As a compilation of sorts, Ethos works fine -- but frankly, I find it a little offensive that this film doesn't announce itself as such. A less informed viewer might assume this film to be wholly original, which would be -- apart from Harrelson's narration -- wholly inaccurate.

Truthfully, you should pass-up "Ethos" and watch "The Corporation" and "Zeitgeist 2" instead. Footage from these two documentaries comprise a great deal of "Ethos," so if you like what you see here, you're honestly better-off watching the original films which have been liberally excerpted from.

Given the dishonest way the film presents itself as something other than a compilation, I can't bring myself to award it more than a single star. But do keep in mind that, as a compilation, "Ethos" does serve as a nice summary of two or three other great documentaries. And, it must be said: Woody Harrelson's presence is seldom a bad thing.
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$500,000 went where?
gabrielhaze-470-689808 September 2012
Ethos is what happens when an individual has a great idea or concept and decides to completely disregard the delivery of that thought well. Based on research the film had a $500,000 budget and yet I have seen hand-held video cameras present and edit a concept better than the garbage (no matter how true) before me.

As an open minded individual I do my best to lower my expectations for the sake of the overall message, but when the editor decides to have constant moving distractions behind EVERY single speaker as a means to hide an awful green screen set up, it literally takes away from ones ability to fully digest what they are saying. And this is ignoring the fact that their use of a "fade to black" transition during interviews was taken advantage of more so than a rapist at a nudist colony.

At the end of the end I give a thumbs up to Woody Harrelson assuming that he actually put up with the lacking quality that went into this production, fully knowing it was sub par. Call it my own personal ego, but I am proud of the fact that I know what my weaknesses are, and although the director may be good at coming up with great concepts for documentaries, he is horribly bad at choosing editors and cameramen. Although, it is entirely possible that he pocketed the budget obtained thus making him a true Romney, political businessman whose whole purpose behind this mess was to continue the legacy of immoral visual corruption.

Congratulations, you just made a well known movie star look like a nobody from an after school special.
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jamesdy-3723031 May 2019
We need more like this put out on a large scale to combat the neo liberal properganda merchants
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It's not wrong though
jmbwithcats19 May 2019
A lot of people are trying to diffuse this documentary but it's not wrong.

"Media influence on public opinion has been studied for many years now. We know for example that the media often play what's called an agenda setting role. Public concern about issues tends to follow media coverage of those issues, rather than any changes in the real world. The media create the impression of the American public has a real choice. You could choose Bush or you could choose Gore, the implication being that they are both very different. But on substantive budgetary or economic issues, the differences between them are really on the margins. Both leading Democrats and Republicans support a privatized health care system, they support corporate-backed global trade agreements, they support maintaining a co-board defense budget, and they generally favor the interests of big business.

But the media give the impression that Democrats and Republicans represent a broad range of opinion by focusing on civil liberty non-monetary issues like gay rights or abortion, where Democrats and Republicans really do differ. And this masks the degree of the lead consensus."

~ETHOS (2011) (Through pause/play transcription by Jonathan Berman); Netflix Streaming
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No new facts, but still important facts.
deloudelouvain5 August 2018
This documentary should be a mandatory watch, just to make people aware on how the world is in hands of a handful powerful families and that since centuries. Not that it will make any difference as the vast majority of this planet are sheep and will continue being sheep until their last breath. I don't think the powerful families like the Warburgs, JPMorgan, the Rothschilds, and the Rockefellers are scared that a documentary like this will change something in this corrupted system we all live. They perfectly understand, the normal human being is just a sheep you can simply control with consumerism, a handful of dollars, a creature that can be mold like they want it, by brainwashing them with fear and greed. The documentary is well done, with alot of fragments of other revealing documentaries like Zeitgeist. It's a very interesting documentary about how people have been manipulated since centuries, by the powerful families behind the scenes, using media, wars, politics and propaganda as their tools. With the narrating voice of Woody Harrelson, maybe not the best narrating voice but respect to him that he stands for his opinions and that he clearly is not a sheep. We, all together, could make a change, if like explained in this documentary we would boycot certain multi-nationals, by never buying anything from them. But that's just wishful thinking, we all know the vast majority of humans have difficulties for thinking by themselves. The flock is were they belong and nothing is going to change that, not even thousands of documentaries like this one. This planet is doomed and there is no escape from it.
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