|© 2006 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.
2006 TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL
For his first feature documentary, BORN RICH, Johnson & Johnson
heir Jamie Johnson interviewed many of his contemporaries -- that is,
children of the enormously wealthy. That film had its flaws, but it also
was quite interesting because of the access Johnson had to men and
women who might otherwise spurn a documentary filmmaker's request.
Johnson's second film, THE ONE PERCENT, is similarly provocative
and fascinating, if also a bit flawed. His thesis is that the growing disparity
between the haves and the have-nots is endangering the survival of the
Now it is not really news to most educated Americans that the
wealth is controlled by a small group of individuals who make up about
one percent of the population. Anyone who resides in a major city knows
that the middle class is seriously in jeopardy. Housing costs are
skyrocketing as are groceries, gasoline, and other essentials.
It seems a little disingenuous that Johnson is unaware that many
of those who control the wealth would want to preserve their place in
society. His own father and the family's business advisor adamantly
refuse his access and tell him that they disagree with his thesis. (His
mother is a little more understanding as she was not born into wealth.)
Johnson interviews a wide variety of individuals with a wide variety
of opinions about his theory, including economist Milton Freedman
(whose gnome-like appearance belies his intellect).
The film is entertaining but perhaps not as informative as Johnson
seems to think. As with his first movie, he was able to gain access to
people who might otherwise not participate in a documentary, but
it is something of a shame that his viewpoint was so naive.