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You’ve Been Trumped

You’ve Been Trumped

By Ben Nicholson • August 5th, 2013
Static Mass Rating: 4/5
Montrose Pictures

Original release: July 6th, 2012
Running time: 95 minutes

Director: Anthony Baxter

Cast: Michael Forbes, Donald Trump

You’ve Been Trumped

Until recently, the only experiences I had of Scotland’s beauty were those brief glimpses snatched between screenings at the Edinburgh Film Festival. It was fantastic then to get a much better look last summer during a holiday to a remote isle; a holiday that involved a mammoth, uncomfortable, and awe-inspiring car journey through the Scottish Highlands. Some of the scenery was absolutely jaw-dropping, and things remained so when we arrived.

With seals bathing in the bay outside the front door, the real highlight was the beach. We’re not talking about one of the nicest beaches I’ve ever laid my feet on, but a contender for the top prize. Yes, the water was cringe-inducingly cold, but these were clear blue waters, and glorious white sands bordered by dunes set against a dramatic mountainous landscape. It was the sort of utterly surprising, but undeniably amazing sight you won’t be getting in on the coast of the Menie Estate in Aberdeenshire any longer.

That was the very first thing that struck me when I saw Anthony Baxter’s expose documentary, You’ve Been Trumped. Obviously there are myriad other reasons to be indignant about the American business magnate, Donald Trump, but the destruction of the dunes in the opening few minutes of the film really riled me. A site of special scientific interest, which it was promised would be left in tact, were just dug up, with nary a second thought.

The documentary, which aired on BBC2 earlier in the year despite threats from Trump’s people, is a firsthand look at the development of his Trump International Golf Links resort. Baxter arrived in the area with the deal already done and is interested in ascertaining the effect that the tycoon’s arrival has had on the local residents, wildlife, and, perhaps most profoundly, government. I recall reading of a review of the film when it hit cinemas earlier in the year that noted care must be taken not to allow a critique of the film to descend into a tirade against its arch villain. Whilst it would be more than easy to slip into this, it’s also the local government and police force who would deserve their fair share of any such vitriol for backing and supporting Trump throughout.

You’ve Been Trumped

Stood in opposition to the American businessman and his construction behemoth are a small group of locals who won’t sell their land to him and would prefer not to have their dune-laden coastline obliterated. They would also like their water and power to remain available to them and not at the golf resorts’ discretion. They aren’t overly keen on having enormous mounds of earth constructed on the land bordering their property to hide their unsightly dwellings from the sort of clientele the Trump International Golf Links is due to attract. These are just some of many unsettling tactics that Trump and his minions have used to try to intimidate residents such as Michael Forbes.

Now the film is entirely one-sided in its outlook; it’s hoping to expose the under-handed methods of the American and his people. Sadly, on every occasion upon which Mr Trump, or representatives of the Scottish government or the local constabulary are invited to put forward their side of the story, they refuse absolutely. You’ve Been TrumpedYou might argue that it’s a little trite as Baxter attempts to do this from the iconic red telephone box from Bill Forsythe’s Local Hero (1983) but he also attempts to raise his questions in several press forums all of which are rebuffed by Trump.

It reached a point where claims were being made about Anthony Baxter not being a journalist at all and was banned from attending press events concerning the resort. But it’s not Donald Trump himself who really raises our hackles here. He’s uber-wealthy and thinks he can do whatever he likes because, as this movie shows, he can. The national and local governments play just as big a part in the attempts to silence Baxter, and in looking the other way when Trump intimidates the residents and goes directly against environmental policy. There are many documentaries, especially those featuring David and Goliath contests, which are rife with injustices and people bullied by the police. Watching films like Crude (2009), however, always have the safety net of corrupt officials in far flung places. Here we see two police officers aggressively arrest a man who is committing no crime.

Money talks. Or, perhaps, it shouts. Loud enough to be heard over the diggers trundling away with the dunes atop them. It was nice to see that Michael Forbes, dubbed the ‘village idiot’ by Trump, recently won ‘Top Scot’ at the Spirit of Scotland Awards. With the resort looming over his home, though, and his life being altered forever it is perhaps not enormous consolation. What is good to hear is that Forbes has now set his sights on Alex Salmond.

Ben Nicholson

Ben Nicholson

Ben has had a keen love of moving images since his childhood but after leaving school he fell truly in love with films. His passion manifests itself in his consumption of movies (watching films from all around the globe and from any period of the medium’s history with equal gusto), the enjoyment he derives from reading, talking and writing about cinema and being behind the camera himself having completed his first co-directed short film in mid-2011.

His favourite films include things as diverse as The Third Man, In The Mood For Love, Badlands, 3 Iron, Casablanca, Ran and Grizzly Man to name but a few.

Ben has his own film site, ACHILLES AND THE TORTOISE, and you can follow him on Twitter @BRNicholson.

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