Thrive, a two-hour documentary that screens Friday at the Performance Space in La Tienda, sells itself as an optimistic vision of a utopian future marked by "free energy," freedom from oppression and spiritual awakening. But on its way to depicting this dream-world, filmmakers Foster and Kimberly Carter Gamble, who have a home in Santa Fe, deliver a horrifying and cynical version of the real world, while also espousing a blend of paranoid conspiracy theories and right-libertarian propaganda.
Filled with beautiful vistas and psychedelic graphics, the film begins with what seems to be a scientific and historical examination of a secret pattern that exists in nature, including images from religious art and ancient architecture found in various cultures around the world. Mathematicians call the pattern a "torus," and Foster Gamble, whose grandfather was a founding partner of Procter & Gamble, believes it holds vast significance and power.
Very soon, however, the film jumps the tracks. Thrive, which has become something of a cult phenomenon since its November release—by some estimates, it's been viewed a million times online—then sets out to show how the government and its sponsors are duping us.
Bringing in progressive heroes to recount the more or less well-known crimes against humanity perpetrated by the likes of Monsanto and Exxon-Mobil, Thrive makes the familiar and justifiable case that huge corporations have too much power, are largely corrupt and pose a threat to society. This probably accounts for its online popularity with the Occupy movement and its supporters. (For the record, I count myself among that audience segment).
But where the filmmakers should go political, they play the conspiracy card. And not just any conspiracy, but the granddaddy of them all: that a handful of families control the world and plan to enslave humanity.
"When I followed the money," Gamble says, "I found it going up the levels of a pyramid." And at the top of this pyramid of evil: the Rothschilds.
Not everyone watching this film will know that this storyline mirrors an argument that Joseph Goebbels made in his infamous Nazi propaganda film The Eternal Jew: that a handful of banking families, many of them Jewish, run the world and seek global domination.
The film and its elaborate website (thrivemovement.com) also feature two veteran conspiracy-mongers: G Edward Griffin, lifetime member of the ultra-right-wing John Birch Society, and David Icke, who believes the world's secret rulers are descended from a hybrid species of evil half-human "Reptilians." Neither of these facts is revealed in Thrive.
Oddly, Thrive also features a number of progressive and spiritually minded luminaries: Amy Goodman of public radio's "Democracy Now"; superstar self-help author Deepak Chopra; environmental economist Paul Hawken; pioneering food activist John Robbins; evolutionary biologist Elisabet Sahtouris; futurist Duane Elgin; sustainable ag guru Vandana Shiva; and former astronaut Edgar Mitchell.
Earlier this month, all of them—virtually every credible character in the cast—released a statement disassociating themselves from the film. "We are dismayed," they write, "that our participation is being used to give credibility to ideas and agendas that we see as dangerously misguided."
The Gambles have not responded to emailed requests for comment on the film's failure to disclose Griffin's affiliation, Icke's beliefs or the statement from their progressive sources. However, when questioned at the film's Santa Cruz premier, they pointed out that this disclaimer appears on screen at the end of the movie: "The people in Thrive do not necessarily agree with the themes, statements, claims or conclusions presented in the film or website, nor does their inclusion imply our full agreement with all of their views."
6 pm Friday, April 20
The Performance Space in La Tienda
7 Caliente Road, Eldorado,465-9214
Q&A with the filmmakers follows screening