A documentary from filmmaker Anthony Baxter and essentially a follow up to his hit 2011 film ‘You’ve Been Trumped’, which showed the effects of Donald Trump’s exclusive multi-million dollar golf course built in the rural landscape of the Northeast of Scotland, Balmedie in Aberdeenshire to be precise, and here we continue that story (he finally even manages to bag an interview with Trump himself after the shock waves the first film caused) whilst it is expanded to look at the environmental and economic impact of building courses in other areas of the world, in particular the historic seaside town of Dubrovnik where one is planned for the summit of the hill overlooking the town and would require syphoning off huge amounts of the town’s water supply, and indeed the issue sparks the first local referendum in Croatia’s modern day history.
Golf is a hideous game for the rich as far as The Red Dragon is concerned, in theory I have nothing against it and the activity should be a nice enterprise for those who would like some moderate exercise outdoors, in practise it is dominated by snobs and we have, in Scotland, golf courses all over the place – Edinburgh alone seems to have about five or six of them, all areas that could be public parks for general use. When I was young I was told I wouldn’t be allowed onto my local course as, despite turning up with my friends and having saved enough money to play, I apparently did not own enough clubs. I had a driver, a putter and maybe four or five irons – basically they were saying I was too poor to play as, after all, what would it look like if they let local kids that couldn’t afford a full golf set onto their greens? I mean, they can’t be seen to be encouraging young commoners to play, right? We might even beat them, imagine! We got our own back by sneaking onto the course at night for free anyway.
In short, fuck golf.
The game has also recently become one of the new sports added to the Olympic Games, and it beat squash to claim the place, which is just about the most ridiculous thing ever and of course has everything to do with the money that the ‘sport’ will bring to the games. Sad to say golf was invented in Scotland, although it is amazing the number of outdoor activities Britain in general has given the world given our somewhat inclement weather.
The documentary invites poignant discussion on the sheer amount of precious water that is used and wasted to keep the greens green in places where grass does not naturally grow – like the desert in Nevada where we see an exclusive retreat going out of business, or in the Middle East where a Tiger Woods designed course has had to be put on hold indefinitely because IT’S STUPID. We hear an interview with Alec Baldwin who has fought against a new golf enterprise in his native Long Island amid legitimate fears that the chemicals used on the grass can and will sink into the water supply for the area, and back in Scotland we see the effects on the local people of the building of Trump’s monstrosity, as one elderly woman in her nineties is left permanently without any running water and walls of earth are deliberately erected around other homes – and all of these people are constituents of Scotland’s first minister Alex Salmond, who appears to have fobbed off the beleaguered locals and done absolutely nothing to help them. Not content with this destruction, we learn Trump plans a second course beside the first and has the audacity to complain, legally, about the building of an offshore wind farm as he reckons it might ruin the view of the pigs he’ll have over for dinner. Unbelievable.
The Dubrovnik course is another very interesting major part of the film. However, criticism has to be levelled at the documentary as to how balanced a view we are receiving. Here, for example, an important vote is ruled invalid by the mayor of the town as, according to him, not enough people turned up to vote. Baxter tells us that the vote was carried by eighty percent of the ballot voting against the new construction, but the film never actually tells us what percentage of the town’s populace did come out to vote, so we are given the distinct impression that the mayor is corrupt but if ultimately only, say, ten percent of the township bothered to vote then the mayor would be quite right in considering it insubstantial constitutionally. It’s a little subtle with the momentum of the film strongly in opposition to all of the golf courses featured, but it’s important to consider how balanced a story we are being told – we also briefly hear from some people in Scotland who are happy that Trump has arrived to build an extension of his empire, but we don’t really hear why they think that, we are not given access to their insights on the matter. Similarly in the interview with the man himself, Trump repeatedly says the director will probably edit whatever he says in his favour, and no doubt in response to this the interview plays out in a fairly uninterrupted manner – but the same cannot be said of all the other interviews in the film.
Overall though, I think this is a well balanced, passionate and eye opening documentary, and the few areas of uncertainty are ironed over by numerous clips of real reactions to Baxter’s probing questions, as well as copious interviews with the people most affected by the issues at hand and a mind toward the politics of each situation as well, all edited and paced with enough skill that the audience’s appetites are kept suitably wetted throughout, for a subject that initially sounds a little too dry to be especially engaging.