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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Taliburton: Corporation as a Cult

Long rumored doing nasty deeds rather expensively, comes via TBogg, word that the U.S. congress has started to investigate Cheney's pals:
Under that contract, Waxman said, Halliburton was charging about $1.30 a gallon to truck in fuel from Kuwait. Executives from Lloyd-Owen International, which has been trucking in fuel for the last year, said they have been charging about 18 cents a gallon.
Halliburton also came under fire Monday from Rory Mayberry, a former food production manager for the company at Camp Anaconda in Iraq.
Mayberry also accused Halliburton of shipping workers who dared speak to military auditors off to more dangerous locations.

Every time I read something about Cheney's Taliburton, I think of the French movie Wages of Fear and its 1977 American remake Sorcerer.
Wages of Fear is constructed upon a seemingly simple premise. Four men are stranded in the dead-end, poverty-riddled town of Las Piedras in a nameless Latin American country. When an oil company, the only business in the area, offers big money for a dangerous job, the men jump at the opportunity as a way out. The task: drive two rickety trucks loaded with nitroglycerine across 300 miles of treacherous mountain country. If they survive - an uncertain proposition at best - each gets a check for $2000.
Stories of Taliburton drivers told to run empty loads across Iraq to create reams of extra billings reinforce this notion.
When Wages of Fear was initially released in the '50s, certain "anti-American" scenes were cut from U.S. versions of the print. The movie portrays an American oil company (modeled after Standard Oil) as being ruthless, amoral, and money-grubbing. The corporation hires four down-on-their-luck individuals to transport the nitroglycerine because, if the men don't make it, no one will miss them and there will be no messy union problems. It's important to note that Clouzot does not openly criticize Americans or the American lifestyle (something that would have been risky less than a decade after the end of World War II), but American big business practices. Watching a restored version of the film nearly 50 years later, this aspect seems neither offensive nor hard-hitting; in fact, if anything, it adds to Wages of Fear's believability.
Over fifty years later and we start to see the fiction played out.

I don't see a lot of movies anymore but The Deal, despite some alleged bad acting, looks intriguing. Even if it didn't have anything to do with the global oil industry (which it does), I would see it because some have compared it favorably to the classic plot-lines and counter-cultural sensibility of movies from the 1970's -- a decade that arguably contained the apex of cinema creativity. (I won't get my hopes up too high though.)

World Changing has more info and The Oil Drum has a review. I don't mind hearing the spoiler to the movie, because if I never get around to seeing it, I would like to know how the ending turns out.


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