You’ve Been Trumped

Reviewed by: Julie Bélanger

Whether it’s infiltrating reality TV or politics, Donald Trump is no stranger to controversy or the limelight. This doc profiles The Donald’s plans for a megaplex golf resort in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, and the locals who dare to oppose his plans, which include two courses, a 450-room hotel and holiday apartments that would swallow family homes and a rare dune ecosystem.

The story begins with a 2007 proposal for the resort that was denied by the local government, who regarded it as unsustainable because it would promote long-distance tourism and destroy a valued natural ecosystem. For the first time ever, the controversial planning application was recalled by Scottish authorities, taking the decision out of Aberdeenshire’s hands.

Less than two years later, protests erupted over compulsory purchase orders of residents’ homes. Fisherman Michael Forbes catalyzed the backlash by refusing to sell his land. In the film, Trump is quick to paint Forbes as a local loony, saying he lives in a slum — a shed that, incidentally, features the words “No More Trump Lies” on its front. In a clip from the Golf Channel’s Donald Trump’s Fabulous World of Golf, the financial tycoon declares that nobody has a problem with his plans, except “maybe the people that live in the houses.”

But it’s not only locals that take issue with the proposed resort. “It will involve moving biblical amounts of sand,” explains Jim Hansom, a geomorphologist from the University of Glasgow, one of a handful of experts who appear in the film. “Not only do you lose the natural dynamism that this area is noted for scientifically, but also you’ll be constructing a largely artificial sand dune environment.”

This problem is echoed by Ian Francis, an Aberdeenshire resident and area manager for theRoyal Society for the Protection of Birds: “A greener Scotland is effectively a myth if something like this is allowed to happen.”

Baxter’s directing mixes various artistic elements, such as music by jónsi of Sigur Ros, to illustrate the differences between Scotland’s rugged beauty (and that of its locals) and the garish McTrump-style development. Dust, wrinkles and blowing sand create a stark contrast when interrupted by endless manicured greens and dunes, not to mention spray tans. You’ve Been Trumped alludes to how the business mogul uses glossy PR and greases palms to grow his empire. More subtly, it begs the viewer to reconsider how they travel. 

You've Been Trumped, directed by Anthony Baxter, UK: Montrose Pictures, 2011, 95 minutes

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Reviewer Information

Julie is an urban planning graduate student at the University of Waterloo, focusing on sustainable transportation.

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