What Is Democracy?

Critics Consensus

What Is Democracy? poses a question big enough for a series of films -- and still manages to answer it in consistently thoughtful and engaging fashion.

95%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 21

67%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 38
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Movie Info

Coming at a moment of profound political and social crisis, What Is Democracy? reflects on a word we too often take for granted. Director Astra Taylor's idiosyncratic, philosophical journey spans millennia and continents: from ancient Athens' groundbreaking experiment in self-government to capitalism's roots in medieval Italy; from modern-day Greece grappling with financial collapse and a mounting refugee crisis to the United States reckoning with its racist past and the growing gap between rich and poor. Featuring a diverse cast--including celebrated theorists, trauma surgeons, activists, factory workers, asylum seekers, and former prime ministers--this urgent film connects the past and the present, the emotional and the intellectual, the personal and the political, in order to provoke and inspire. If we want to live in democracy, we must first ask what the word even means.

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Critic Reviews for What Is Democracy?

All Critics (21) | Top Critics (6)

  • [A] kaleidoscopic, somewhat random, yet always involving approach to a major concept that, despite the wealth and breadth of Taylor's offerings here, feels like just the first step in surveying anew where democracy stands.

    Feb 22, 2019 | Full Review…
  • [Taylor] presents an inclusive and necessary debate, asking whether democracy today really is of, by, and for the people, and if it ever was.

    Feb 14, 2019 | Full Review…
  • Unfocused but consistently engaging.

    Jan 16, 2019 | Full Review…
  • Like democracy itself, the movie assumes such a broad mandate and has such noble intentions that indicating its shortcomings seems almost beside the point.

    Jan 15, 2019 | Full Review…
  • The film indexes the manner in which democracy has become abstracted and polluted, especially by governmental capitulation to the meddling interests of free-market capitalism.

    Jan 4, 2019 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • An extended and good-looking essay, it serves as a sharp reminder to pay attention to politics and to remember that the personal and the local are political.

    Jun 11, 2018 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

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