Crude (2009) - Rotten Tomatoes

Crude (2009)



Critic Consensus: Dynamic, tightly arranged, and deliberately provocative, Joe Berlinger's Crude is a sobering, enraging wake-up call.

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The story behind the world's largest oil-related environmental lawsuit comes to the screen as award-winning documentary filmmaker Joe Berlinger (Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster) investigates the facts in the case of the so-called "Amazon Chernobyl," a disaster that occurred deep in the rain forests of Ecuador.
Documentary , Special Interest
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Critic Reviews for Crude

All Critics (64) | Top Critics (21)

A bleak, necessarily incomplete tale, and suffers from a late intrusion by celebrity eco-botherer Trudi Styler. But with this gripping, angry film, Berlinger has put himself back on the side of the angels.

Full Review… | January 15, 2010
Time Out
Top Critic

An engrossing case for justice.

Full Review… | December 3, 2009
Top Critic

A gripping, multifaceted thriller about media politics, global economics, and legal infighting. Wherever your sympathies fall, this may teach you a lot about the way the modern world works.

Full Review… | December 3, 2009
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

One has to wonder if oil industry executives are concerned about the release of Joe Berlinger's damning documentary.

Full Review… | December 3, 2009
New York Daily News
Top Critic

What Crude does best is take us behind the scenes and show in often candid detail how campaigns are waged, tactics decided on and strategies prioritized.

Full Review… | December 3, 2009
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

As the film very eloquently implies, when the greater good is defined as profits, and a lack of culpability is proportionate to your number of shareholders, well . . . a lot of petroleum-soaked chickens will be coming home to roost.

Full Review… | December 2, 2009
Washington Post
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Crude

"Crude" strains to look fair and balanced--but to an informed viewer, it's nothing more than an anti-corporate diatribe worthy of Fox News (were Rupert a leftist). It may be cool in many circles to hate corporations and especially oil companies, but anyone doing 10 minutes of research on the subject will see that here the tables have been turned in 2014. Read about Mr. Donzinger's manipulation of the facts--and the travesty of justice left by his actions--and you'll feel cheated by the storyline of this poorly researched documentary. Do read about the case before being pulled in by your hearstrings; if you read nothing else, read Michael Krauss' article: "Ecuador, Chevron and Steven Donziger: The Travesty Described in Detail" What the MOVIE INFO could have read had the producers been honest with their reprsentation: "The story behind the world's largest environmental extortion suit by American lawyer and his band with connections to the President and funded by gambling and lobbyist interests. Shamed by a Federal Judge, the underlying case is a tragedy, as is the environmental treatment of Ecuador by it's own government run oil company and judicial system." From the WSJ: "[L]ast March federal Judge Lewis Kaplan found the Ecuador ruling was the result of fraud and racketeering and judged it unenforceable in the U.S. Judge Kaplan also found Mr. Donziger liable for racketeering violations, and Chevron filed a claim against Mr. DeLeon in Gibraltar. Under the settlement, Mr. DeLeon agreed to turn over to Chevron his financial interest in "Crude," a propaganda film about the case that he also helped to finance. Mr. DeLeon also issued a public statement that included the following: "I have concluded that representatives of the Lago Agrio plaintiffs, including Steven Donziger, misled me about important facts. If I had known these facts, I would not have funded the litigation." The Wall Street Journal Editorial 02/18/15

jay vibora
jay vibora

The reaction when people first hear about this case, they describe it as a David vs Goliath story. And certainly I can't disagree but in many ways it sort of simplifies the struggle and it doesn't really get to the heart of the matter. This film was released before Chevron actually lost the lawsuit and they were ordered to pay over $18 billion in damages and to correct the damage they've done to the rain forest. Unfortunately, and this is sad part considering that Chevron WANTED the case moved to Ecuador, Chevron has no international obligation to pay the money so they've just outright refused to own up to their mistakes. Anyway, this film highlights the struggle of this small-time lawyer, Pablo Fajardo, and his fight against a gigantic, multinational corporation such as Chevron. Perhaps Chevron could've contributed more than they did to the film but, of course, other than interviews with Chevron apologists that work for them, they're gonna refuse to address these charges since they believe they're not guilty of anything. I do like how the film tracks the progress of the case, going from a case that wasn't in the public mind to being something the world has been made aware about, thanks to the 2007 Live Earth concert and the efforts made by Trudie Styler to bring this case to the awareness of the world. It really is unfortunate that this would be the first case where indigenous people have successfully sued a multinational corporation for damages to their land, because that means there's been other cases where you don't even know about and these companies using their vast resources to force those suing them into bankruptcy and having to drop the lawsuits. If I went over everything in the movie, I'd be here forever but I'd definitely recommend this film so this criminal activity by Chevron shouldn't be forgotten at all. This is an excellent documentary. Perhaps a little one-sided, but that is Chevron's own fault for refusing to participate. If you have Netflix Instant, then this is a must-see.

Jesse Ortega
Jesse Ortega

Super Reviewer


"Crude" does give us an interesting process story, but the case it presents against Chevron is consistently weak, based on hearsay when we need health statistics, environmental lab results, maps and contract agreements between Chevron and PetroEcuador (the national oil company of Ecuador). After their joint oil exploration, a mess has been left, but which party is responsible for which oil pit? The film has no interest in finding out, preferring to just observe the theater. If you watch this, dig a bit into PetroEcuador's environmental record. One article I found suggests they haven't "paid a dime" in cleanup even though they were responsible for over 1000 spills in the 5 years leading up to the footage we see in the film. Chevron spent 40 million dollars cleaning up before they left in the 90s. Chevron likely wanted the case moved to Ecuador because in 1998, the Ecuadorian government declared Chevron's environmental remediation was completed according to the agreed terms and released them from any future liability in the country. However, google "Ecuador's Assault on Free Speech" and you'll get a NYTimes article covering President Correa's manipulation of his country's judicial system by having his own lawyer write the highest judge's ruling against a major newspaper outlet. With his personal attention and involvement at the end of the movie, can you then really trust any Ecuadorian ruling in this case against Chevron? At the very least, there are two definite failures here that need to be resolved anywhere oil is handled poorly: government regulation and citizen oversight of the government's competence. The latter is only made possible by a free press, something Ecuador apparently doesn't have. Also, don't let your ducks and chickens drink out of an old construction tire if you want them to live.

Matthew Slaven
Matthew Slaven

Super Reviewer

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