Director, Lauren Greenfield says that filmmaking is a ‘constant process’ (pg 219) and ‘the way she got good footage was by proximity to her topics for some long period of time and by gaining the trust of her subjects’. (McCreadie, pg 190) This film epitomises this approach to filmmaking, returning to previous subjects with whom she already has an established relationship with and following up on their lives.
The film is centred around her extensive personal photography archive, her audio recordings, some over a quarter of a century old and talking head interviews with the people featured in her photographs.
Greenfield uses both archival and modern interviews with the subjects of her photographs on the subject of wealth, beauty and power. The sheer number of participants in the film means she cannot analyse their characters in the same way she did with her previous film, The Queen of Versailles. However, this film takes a different approach examining microcosms of society to tell us more about the world today.
A reoccurring theme through the film is that “Society acquires its greatest wealth in the face of death.” That by looking at spending habits of a few people around the world we are able to extrapolate a lot about the society in which they live.
The film suggests that thanks to the fictitious world created my the media having status is the new American dream. It is suggested that the porn stars, criminals, ‘rich kids’ and beauty queens that are featured in this film see obscene amounts of money as the easiest way to reach that dream. And that they will do whatever it takes to accumulate that wealth. One could be lead to think that Greenfield is suggesting that these displays of wealth are an indication that America is heading for a fall.
I really enjoyed the film, it was incredible to see such a large quantity of Greenfield’s photographic work presented in relation to a single topic and to hear more about her own life and approach to her work. Would definitely recommend!
‘Generation Wealth’ is now in cinemas and available to watch online through Curzon Home Cinema.