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Average Rating: 3.1/5

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With the recent assault on Berlusconi in Milan where a man threw a statuette at the prime minister hitting him in the face and causing considerable injury, and the subsequent notice by his administration that the government would seek tighter controls on Facebook and other social networking sites which they claim "instigate" violence against the prime minister, this elucidating probe of Italian mass media and political skullduggery comes to U.S. audiences at a bizarre and critical moment in Italian history.Thirty years ago, Silvio Berlusconi bought a local television channel and aired a late-night quiz show featuring a sexy housewife who took off her clothes to reward callers for correct answers. The only complaints came from local factories whose employees stayed up late to watch and were too tired to work the next day. From then on, Berlusconi's empire grew and his shows became evermore heavily populated with half-naked women known as veline, young starlets charged with posing and dancing sexy and silent next to the host.How can one explain the devolution of the politics and media culture of Italy in the age of its current prime minister and media emperor Silvio Berlusconi? As the owner of Mediaset, he controls the majority of the country's private television stations, and other media outlets such as, for example, Medusa, the country's largest motion picture producer. As Italy's political leader, he maintains considerable control of the state-run RAI channels, affording him an unprecedented hybrid of executive power and private interest to control the airwaves - and to numb the minds of the populace and unapologetically shape public opinion to his financial and political benefit. Cut to August of 2009 when, as reported by the Associated Press, the powers that be at RAI and Mediaset channels refused to broadcast the trailer of the a small independent film called VIDEOCRACY (just prior to its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival) calling the spots "offensive to the honor and personal reputation of the prime minister." The film dared to probe the methods and lives of key players in Berlusconi's empire, examining how they thrive in the secret leveraging of their own conflicted interests in the realms of fame, politics and finance. Understanding that words simply cannot do his story justice, director Erik Gandini richly illustrates VIDEOCRACY with the trashy TV clips, bucolic political spots and brazen press conferences that swept Berlusconi into power - and the pandering that outshines the crassest of American broadcasters by far. Approaching the material as both insider and outsider, Gandini gains remarkable access to the opulent world of Berlusconi's associates and the armies of willing wannabes that swarm around them. Subjects range from Silvio himself, to talent agent Lele Mora, to the infamous paparazzo Fabrizio Corona (currently imprisoned for extortion), to a factory worker seeking the fame that only television can supply. In an environment where any journalist inclined to criticism faces temptation to join the party, Gandini maintains a critical distance and unravels for the viewer a modern Italy as both comedy and tragedy. -- (C) Lorber

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Critic Reviews for Videocracy

All Critics (27) | Top Critics (8)

  • Pulsing with incredulity and dread, it's less a fully developed argument than the seed of one.

    Jul 16, 2010 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • Videocracy is a fascinating film, indicative of the new wave of scorn and revulsion felt by a younger generation of Italians for Berlusconi's smug and mediocre rule.

    Jun 25, 2010 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Videocracy makes spooky comedy of a nation's addiction to fame.

    Jun 17, 2010 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • The combination of terrific footage with a low, rumbling score of doom makes this a compelling horror show.

    Jun 2, 2010 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

    Dave Calhoun

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Videocracy is a queasy-funny and unapologetically biased look at the televisual world that the Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, has created.

    Feb 11, 2010 | Rating: 3/5
  • If a team of clever screenwriters tried to script a cautionary tale about the politics of fame (and the fame of politics), they likely couldn't come up with anything odder or more apt than Erik Gandini's documentary Videocracy.

    Feb 11, 2010 | Rating: A-

    Noel Murray

    AV Club
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Videocracy

"Videocracy" starts by showing the inherent superiority of European television over its American counterpart. Sadly, the documentary does not see it that way as it seems to think any undressing on television leads immediately to "Caligula."(Relax, it's not like Hugh Hefner is running the country or anything...) All of which is laid at the feet of now former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi(why couldn't he have held on for another couple of weeks?) and his vast media empire which controls 90% of the television stations in Italy which on the face of it is very, very bad. But the documentary is less interested in his government's policies than in fame and reality programs which are not just an Italian problem but a worldwide plague. Even worse, the filmmakers in pure amateur hour fashion do not even come close to connecting the dots.

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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