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You’ve Been Trumped

A David and Goliath story for the 21st century

Poster art for You've Been TrumpedDonald Trump, the archvillain of Anthony Baxter’s documentary polemic You’ve Been Trumped is a man many people love to hate. In this unabashedly hostile portrait of a billionaire developer in action as he embarks on a grandiose new project in Scotland, Mr. Trump comes across as an insensitive, lying bully who will do whatever it takes to realize his dream of creating what he promises will be the world’s greatest golf resort.

The $1.5 billion project involves building two 18-hole golf courses, a 450-bedroom luxury hotel, and a complex of apartments and golf villas on the North Sea coast. Environmental protection was pushed aside for economic development, and the government supported the project, which Mr. Trump declared would bring 6,000 jobs to the area.

Like Michael Moore in Roger And Me, Mr. Baxter is a persistent gnat who hovers around Mr. Trump and his entourage, camera in hand, and refuses to be brushed off. At one point in the film he is arrested and charged with breach of the peace. But whereas Mr. Moore was the star of his own film, Mr. Baxter, who was born in eastern Scotland not far from the development area, maintains a low profile in a documentary that has no narrator.

There is also a big difference between Roger Smith, the General Motors chief executive officer whom Mr. Moore was never able to interview in his film, and the publicity-loving Mr. Trump, who broadcast his ambitions on late-night television and on the Golf Channel. You’ve Been Trumped lards in excerpts from Bill Forsyth’s 1983 film, Local Hero, in which a Texas oil baron wants to build a refinery in a fictional Scottish coastal town.

Once construction begins on the 1,400-acre Menie Estate, which Mr. Trump bought in 2005, the lives of the farmers and fishermen in nearby Balmedie, a town of 3,000, are disrupted.

The arrival of Mr. Trump and his overbearing ways is an affront to many residents, especially Michael Forbes, a farmer who refuses to sell his property, which Mr. Trump describes as a slum and a pigsty. The film delves into the problems encountered by Mr. Forbes and neighbours who band together to protest the development. Mr. Forbes loses his electricity and water. Enormous piles of dirt and sand are dumped near cottages, blocking their ocean views, and homeowners are taken to court in petty boundary disputes. At one point, the use of ‘compulsory purchase orders’, the Scottish equivalent of expropriation, is threatened.

You’ve Been Trumped ends indecisively. Last year, Mr. Trump said he would not construct the promised hotel unless plans were scrapped to build an offshore wind farm that he said would destroy the ocean view. So far, both sides of this David and Goliath battle are still standing.

– Stephen Holden, The New York Times



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