Capital in the Twenty-First Century

 (195)7.51 h 42 min202013+
Based on the international bestseller by rock-star economist Thomas Piketty (which sold over three million copies worldwide), this captivating documentary is an eye-opening journey through wealth and power, a film that breaks the popular assumption that the accumulation of capital runs hand in hand with social progress, and shines a new light on today's growing inequalities.
Justin Pemberton
Thomas Piketty
English [CC]
Audio languages
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Kino Lorber
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4.3 out of 5 stars

195 global ratings

  1. 66% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 16% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 9% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 2% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 6% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

Byron SteigerReviewed in the United States on September 6, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Capitalism needs to be regulated
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While the documentary lacks the subtlety and complexity of Piketty's economic treatise (particularly the historical rate of return of capital v.s. labor--and the competing models of pseudo liberal democracy [the U.S.] and and state capitalism [China])--- if you do not have the time or economic skills-- the documentary makes Piketty's basic argument. Capitalism runs amok when it is not regulated and there are inadequate tax policies. The future is still open to solving the problems our societies face but it will be very difficult to overcome the entrenched interests. Well worth watching.
8 people found this helpful
Bayareaz5zReviewed in the United States on July 5, 2020
3.0 out of 5 stars
Good documentary but should have expanded more on core ideas
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Good documentary but should have expanded more on core ideas. It spent too much time on economic history and not enough time left to expand on Thomas Piketty’s core ideas . More graphics to explain return on capital versus return on labor and how economic growth comes in to the equation. Its easy to criticize the system but solutions that work are harder. If wealth re-distribution and extra taxation are to happen then how those funds are used and targeted is important , most of the time well intervention taxes just go down a black hole and accomplish nothing .
6 people found this helpful
PapagenaReviewed in the United States on July 11, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Hard to watch but an accessible explanation of economic history.
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This movie presents some of the core concepts of the eponymous book but in a much more accessible format. It provides a detailed history of economics starting with pre-enlightenment economic systems and extending into the current century. Unfortunately, it is mostly left to the viewer to figure out if anything can be done to remedy 21st century oligarchies or force multinationals to empower their workers and pay taxes.
5 people found this helpful
brandon beau bakhtiarReviewed in the United States on January 21, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Inequality must be addressed.
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I have always wondered how the capitalism I was raised in, which requires infinite growth, could last on a finite planet, as we add 82,000,000 global citizens net per year, while capital replaces labor for owners, allows them eternal income, & key, the ability to purchase assets... which are like cups that allow owners to collect the rain the Federal Reserve prints, asset prices inflate when $ is printed (Quant. Easing) while non asset owners have no means to enjoy this advantage...they suffer inflation of what they must purchase. Asset owners effectively get a free ride. But labor, they are told to work harder.

Population facts (note this growth is happening on a finite planet):
-Start of human history-1803 to get to 1 billion.
-124 years to get to 2B. (1927)
-33 years to get to 3B (1960).
-14 years to get to 4B (1974).
-13 years to get to 5B (1987).
-12 years to get to 6B (1999).
-12 more to get to 7B (2011).
Currently at 7.7. Teach 8B in 2024. Half of current total has been added since 1960s. What took all of human history to 1927to accrue has been added in the last 25 years. This while technology constantly decreases the need for labor. Yet labor is still told to figure out a way to sell labor? This film elaborates on this strange supposition especially well with solid points by Ian Bremmer in the last 25 minutes.

-Minute 1-35: history of inequality, WW1, rise of Hitler, rise of industrial production, “final” fall of feudalism, the use of nationalism/religion to mask what matters more in quality of life.
-Hard hitting images: 38:45
-35-55 covers the 30 years of middle class expansion, zenith of opportunity post WW2 (1948-1978).
-Charts showing change of distribution of total wealth showing greater rise of those with wealth. One group outpacing another leads to excessive inequality.

-Minute 1-35:
History of inequality, WW1, rise of Hitler, rise of industrial production, “final” fall of feudalism, the use of nationalism/religion to mask what matters more in quality of life.
-Hard hitting images: 38:45
The 30 years of middle class expansion, zenith of opportunity post WW2 (1948-1978).
-minute 50: Effect of 1970s oil embargo
Good charts showing change of distribution of total wealth showing greater rise of those with wealth. One group outpacing another leads to excessive inequality.
-Explanation of the rise of finance as compared to what Germany & Japan did. Reaganism in reaction to the rebound of Japan & Germany.
55-60’ -Change of American culture to wealth worship. “Greed is good” and roots of support for businessmen running America. Statistics showing economy is failing more & more ordinary people. Rise of credit.
-Good Simpson clip summarizing housing crisis; who suffered disproportionately.
-Movement, offshoring of profits using tax loopholes (lobbied for by you know who). I like the film suggests policy antidotes for these tactics.
-1:06-1:12 Excellent Monopoly game study showing inequality influences comparison, empathy, ego.
-Taxation and offshoring; Apple’s Cayman accounts. Legal but lobbied for so right?
-“Wealth management” services that help wealth set up foreign accounts. Legal but right?
-1:16 How policy can fix. Sanctions against participant territories and change the way taxes are calculated on where the customers are not where they siphon their profits to.

It must be remembered the world is finite, ie a zero sum game, so even with technology improving production more taken by one means less for the rest.

Key statements:
“1:09 It’s not the people but the experience of being rich has to do with it relative to others.” Excellent Family Guy clip.
Adam Smith’s ideas never thought financial activity would become the proportion of the economy they are today. They produce little in terms of actual product, environmental good or human health improvement.

Final points
Wealth today, esp with the current Fed policy of creating $ to prop asset prices, is being not employed for creative beneficial growth but held bc owners know just owning will yield returns. No building factories or invention required...not to mention less and less job creation.
As productivity increases the owners benefit & loop that around to reinforce their lobbyists (bribery brokers) & funds to for campaign donations (another means of influence). Lobbyists should be banned or all their peddling made public record and campaigns publicly funded so candidates polling 1% are free from having to beg from the wealth holders. Support this or don’t wonder why politicians sell out. This system essentially sets it up.

Rise of frustration. Exasperation with lack of progress. Withdrawal into common group/tribe ideology. Fear manipulated, blaming our neighbors phenomenon, noted. Obvious examples everywhere.

Taxation of capital to enable opportunity. If a ideology doesn’t believe government has the right to this or think wealth has unlimited rights or think everyone has enough of a chance that progressive taxation, or the curbs on inheritances the film advocates, it also makes a good point of horses having much utility pre industrial revolution however today they were replaced by machines replacing human labor. High lighting that todays capitalism is no longer about labor.

Driverless technology will uproot a major means of income by 2030 a major source of income for too many people for changes to not happen. The robots that do the work in Elysium can’t be owned by the 1%. We can evolve to the next stage of capitalism.
One person found this helpful
Matt_MattReviewed in the United States on August 10, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Excellent depiction of Capitalism
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I enjoyed the historical breakdown of the economic classes over the years. It is crazy tis is not common knowledge. I would recommend everyone to watch this.
5 people found this helpful
customer 101Reviewed in the United States on October 15, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
It’s all about the money
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I highly recommend the film. Great look into how wealth and inequality plays a role in our perception of society and can (pretty much always) explain social unrest and human disasters/revolution. I’d recommend the book for a more detailed argument but I know many probably don’t have the time to slog through it. The movie definitely adds a sensational element that conservatives will not like, but may read over fine in the book.

Yes, as seen with the reviews calling Piketty Socialist. Very funny. Piketty's work is debated in a legit way obviously, however.
One person found this helpful
JakobReviewed in the United States on December 9, 2020
1.0 out of 5 stars
Engaging and Persuasive, But Intellectually Shallow
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This documentary is well-edited, engaging, and it provokes the asking of important questions but simultaneously omits important concessions made by Thomas Piketty, the author of the book on which this film is based. I recommend reading the book instead and comparing it with relevant literature and scholarship presenting competing explanations and solutions. What I suggest is a bit more rigorous than merely watching this film, but it represents a much more effective means of getting to the truth. Watch if you will, but don't suppose for a moment that this film thoroughly or accurately portrays the challenges concerning markets, economies, and capitalism.
One person found this helpful
AlbertReviewed in the United States on October 10, 2021
4.0 out of 5 stars
Buy the book, it's much more informative. Mainstream media is controlled by the Corporate Elites
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Corrupt economics, specifically how modern day economics is systematized called "laissez-faire" Capitalism or simply unfettered and unregulated capitalism, is creating inequalities across the world. The book is much more informative and insightful and I'm not surprised; mainstream media is controlled by you guessed it: The Corporate Elites that have utilized that corrupt and laissez-faire capitalism to their advantage and shaft everyone else and the wider public.
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