Film Review: ‘You’ve Been Trumped’

Anthony Baxter’s immensely compelling (and infuriating) low-budget documentary You’ve Been Trumped (2011) begins with a well-placed clip from Bill Forsyth’s acclaimed Scottish comedy-drama Local Hero (1983), which tells the story of a small coastal town standing up to a wealthy American oil tycoon. In Baxter’s protest piece, US billionaire Donald Trump plays the role of main antagonist, seemingly intent on destroying not only an area of biological and scientific, but also the lives of a sleepy fishing village’s senior residents with his construction plans for a multi-million dollar luxury golf course smack-bang in the middle of the area’s ancient sand dunes.

Acting without any visible sign of conscience, remorse or scruples (remember, Trump is a man who lauds the benefits of greed with the vehemence of a real-life Gordon Gekko), the infamous property developer swiftly set about defaming those opposed to his initial plan, particularly impassioned farmer Michael Forbes. Forbes’ property, which he uses to store his farming machinery, is denounced as a “slum” by Trump on numerous occasions, going as far to suggest that the film’s very own local hero lived “like a pig”. Having publicly discredited his main adversary, the Trump construction machine moved in, turning pristine natural dunes into a sterile wasteland.

With only a meagre budget and the might of the enormous Trump empire standing in his way at seemingly every turn (if Baxter was give a cash payout every time he was instructed to turn of his camera, he’d be rivalling Trump himself in terms of wealth), Baxter has done a tremendous job in capturing one of the greatest injustices in recent Scottish history. Both the Scottish government and First Minister Alex Salmond seemed more than happy to allow the mega-rich developed to unpick the lives of their own constituents, with assaults on not only Baxter himself (who was arrested whilst making the film) but also the local water and electricity supply examples of thinly veiled attempts at bullying and petty intimidation.

It would be particularly easy for this review to descend into a tirade against Trump and the extremities of his own destructive thirst for money and power. Thankfully, You’ve Been Trumped does a remarkable job of tying together the various relevant issues and disputes, all with an unfussy, extremely personable filmmaking approach. Unlike some of his contemporaries, Baxter seems more than happy to fade into the background, instead preferring to let his eloquent subjects and roving camera do the talking. A modern day David and Goliath tale, You’ve Been Trumped deserves to be watched by every individual who has ever felt let down by the powers that be, or that greed and profit have obstructed the path of truth and justice.

Daniel Green