Donald Trump is a lying, hubris-drenched bully.
But you knew that already, didn’t you?
Which is why this small re-release of Anthony Baxter’s 2011 documentary is a little puzzling. The film, which was Baxter’s feature debut, follows the planning and initial construction of “the world’s greatest golf course” in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Trump is as boastful as ever as he courts the press, claiming that he’s essentially doing the area a favor. Everybody supports him!
Except they don’t. The handful of residents near the soon-to-be-plowed dunes have lived there for decades. And one, a farmer and fisherman named Michael Forbes, isn’t selling.
“I happen to be a very truthful person,” the Donald tells the media. “[Forbes’] property is terribly maintained. It’s slumlike. It’s disgusting… He lives like a pig.”
And Trump didn’t want that disgusting slum ruining the view of his resort’s guests. Another thing that had to go is the wind farm. When he looks out onto the water, Trump says, “I want to see the ocean. I don’t want to see windmills.” Yet he claimed that he had “tremendous” support from environmental groups.
It’s no surprise that one environmentalist countered that he knew of no credible organizations who backed the project. You’ve Been Trumped, in fact, has no surprises at all. The real estate mogul’s money allows for security to watch over the construction site, not only shooing away cameras but arresting Baxter himself when he asks the police some questions and gets a bit belligerent after their strong-arming. An early tour of the golf course is for “invited press only.” Trump asks, and Trump doth receives.
Such antics are now expected from the former reality-TV star who is more on the international radar than ever as the presumptive Republican candidate for president of the United States. (Just ask the Washington Post, whose credentials Trump revoked in June.) The film proves that Trump was appalling five years ago—and, let’s be honest, going back much further than that—before his foray into politics morphed from a joke to a threat.
Meanwhile, the citizens of Aberdeenshire are shown mostly shaking their heads and pointing to what used to be where. And Baxter—who’s identified in the film as a “legal historian and land rights expert”—leans heavily on the sentimentality, using a piece of music that may as well be titled “These Are the People to Weep For.” (Trump doesn’t get a soundtrack, but one imagines Baxter would choose “The Imperial March.”)
In addition to feeling needless and redundant in 2016, You’ve Been Trumped is awfully slow and relatively superficial. It’s Good Guy versus Bad Guy, with too little input from the area’s officials. (And, weirdly, you often can’t understand the Good Guy with the thick brogue, while English speakers without accents are occasionally subtitled.) But there’s plenty of filler, including photos of an elderly resident’s fisherman father and spliced-in scenes from a 1983 Burt Lancaster movie called Local Hero. (Its story does parallel Trump’s, but it still feels unnecessary.)
Looking at Baxter’s subsequent filmography, it’s clear that he’s obsessed with this topic: His 2014 documentary, A Dangerous Game, explores how heavy-hitting developers like Trump use golf as a means to trample on lived-on land and abuse its ecosystem, and his 2015 release, Dark Side of the Greens, is essentially a follow-up to You’ve Been Trumped and additionally looks at other natural parcels that are being threatened with resort development. Now that Trump-related environmental damage is only one of many, many concerns about the man, perhaps Baxter will widen his view to include other issues instead of repeating himself.
You’ve Been Trumped opens today at Angelika Pop-Up.