Our reliance on oil is only growing, and our unabated demand continues to bulk the pockets of the energy companies in the process. There are few regions of the globe that remain untouched by this powerful industry, and fewer lives that aren’t affected by its dealings. Produced by the always provocative Corbett Report, How Big Oil Conquered the World skillfully traces the nefarious origins and evolution of this energy behemoth.
The film sheds light on aspects of the oil industry that have remained largely obscured by official historical records. For many of us, John D. Rockefeller comes to mind when we reflect on the moment when Big Oil first became big business. But the beginnings our global captivation with this precious source of energy really began with his father William, a man who gained notoriety for his illicit romantic affairs and tenacious gifts as a snake oil salesman. The industry as it exists today – and the general demeanour of the world it has cultivated – is a direct reflection of his slithery personality.
The documentary does not allow the son John escape from intense scrutiny, however. The filmmakers reveal the oft-told tale of how his company Standard Oil used merciless bribery and strong-arm tactics to become a worldwide superpower. But in doing so, they deliver a series of surprising and altogether horrific anecdotes. According to the facts presented in the film, even the world’s most revered philanthropic interests haven’t been immune to the Rockefellers’ devious touch. These pursuits have long allowed the richest elites powerful sway over the masses, and the ability to craft a world and a workforce that bends to their needs.
What’s past is prologue. How Big Oil Conquered the World recounts the deeply checkered history of the oil industry to form a context for the even more troubling future that awaits an unsuspecting public. In these modern times, they have their fingers in nearly every conceivable pie of influence – from pharmaceuticals to green technologies to education. The scourge of rampant greed and the continuing emergence of global monopolies empower these companies with enough leverage to control every facet of our lives and to make sheep of us all.