What Is Democracy?


What Is Democracy? (2019)



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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.


Critic Reviews for What Is Democracy?

All Critics (6)

It's a fascinating and enlightening treatise.

Oct 31, 2018 | Full Review…

What is Democracy? is a call to arms, but it is also a powerful and piercing reminder that, as Plato said, "nothing beautiful without struggle."

Sep 20, 2018 | Full Review…

One gets the sense that What is Democracy? might have been edited in a different form, one that clarified its purposes a bit more deliberately.

Sep 12, 2018 | Full Review…

It's a bit on the slack side, with Taylor offering up one talking head after another, breaking up the sections with thoughtful quotes from Plato's Republic... But I'm not sure a slicker, sharper version of this would serve any purpose.

Sep 8, 2018 | Rating: 3/5 | 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…

What Is Democracy? reveals Taylor's sure instincts as she shapes the vast sprawl of often disparate, sometimes random-feeling material into a focused, thought-provoking essay that even leaves you feeling that there was so much more to say on the subject.

Jun 11, 2018 | Full Review…

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