Movie Review King Corn


The movie King Corn focuses on the effect of corn on the USeconomy and its civilians. It is a documentary featuring twocharacters, as they relocate to Iowa to cultivate corn on an acre ofland. The characters, Curtis Ellis and Ian Cheney, evaluate thefunction that the massive corn production has on the US community(Woolf, 2007). In the process, the film highlights the relevance ofadministrative subsidies in approving huge corn growing. By watchingKing Corn, it is apparent that consuming and growing corn hasimplications. These include expanding waistlines, the downfall offamily farms, as well as what is contained in fructose corn syrup,which all emerge as the unexpected outcomes of becoming a cornconsuming population. As Ellis and Cheney learn more about cornproduction, so do the viewers. The movie compels the viewer toquestion US’s large-scale corn harvesting, which in 2007 was 92million acres (Woolf, 2007). Audiences also question the reason fortoo much corn production, and reasons for its subsidization. Inaddition, is questioning why animals are feeding on corn that makesthem sick as well as leads to the producing of unhealthy meatproducts for human consumption.

The movie opens as the protagonists are in a laboratory where theirhair is being tested. Hair is portrayed as a tape recorder of all thebody eats. The results from the test demonstrate that their bodiescontain carbon, which mainly comes from the corn they consume.Notably, they have not been feeding on the corn directly ratherintake is indirect. It is what the livestock ate, which traces to thehamburger, the sweetener from spaghetti sauce and sodas. Ellis andCheney inform on how it all takes place through the macrocosm withinthe microcosm of the corn they settle on planting in Iowa (Woolf,2007). The procedure, from getting the acre of land, filling forms toemotions arising all through the final harvest, avails a brilliantbasis for the history of farm subsidy. Farm subsidy appeared like aperfect concept during its implementation. Earl Butz, the 1970sSecretary of Agriculture aimed at motivating farmers to grow morecrops. As a result, farmers were provided with agriculture supplies,larger machines for massive cultivation, corn engineering to make itpossible to cultivate the crop close together, as well as standchemicals, which were meant for destroying weeds. The outcome was adecline in the prices of corn, subsidies and help, which ensuredfarmers, were in business, as business found advent ways to use corn,which was affordable and plentiful.

The best manner of communicating an issue is to demonstrate theproblem instead of telling people about it. King Cornperfectly communicates on the negative outcomes of America’s foodsupply derived from corn. In place of preaching to viewers the issuesarising from corn consumption and production, the film demonstrates.Almost all products in grocery stores, be it steak, desserts, sauce,chicken breasts among others are obtained from corn. This is eitheras corn syrup or from corn feed given to animals. There are perfectillustrations instead of the tell strategy of communicating. Forinstance, Ellis inserts his hand in a hole within the stomach of alive cow as a way of depicting the negative health outcomes ofanimals feeding on corn. In another incidence, a taxi driver narrateshow he his weight amounted to 300 pounds due to consuming soft drinksthat contain high fructose corn syrup (Woolf, 2007). Last, in orderto secure the land, we see an auction happening to sell the farm inaddition to the Iowa farmer’s belongings, who becomes allies withEllis and Cheney in addition to permitting them cultivate an acre ofcorn in his farm.

King Corn follows the actions of Ellis and Cheney within an18-month period. It demonstrates the month after month development ofthe characters farm of corn, from when they begin cultivating inspring to the harvest in fall. They manage to plant the corn throughassistance from local farmers, tractors, spraying herbicides andfertilizers, seed planting, harvest and delivery of their corn toIowa grain elevator. All through these stages, the movie depictsrespect and sympathy towards Iowa farmers because of the problemsthey experience due to contemporary industrial agriculture. This isapparent through the interviews conducted on farmers, as well asfamily members that demonstrate concern over industrial farming. Forinstance, in an interview with Rich Johnson, a farmer managingvarious huge farms in Iowa, he states that contemporary industrialagriculture makes farms bigger compelling the need for one to own alarge farm, or become squeezed out of farming (Woolf, 2007). Thechallenges the farmers face foreshadow of one of the many challengesarising from corn farming. The introduction of industrial agriculturedoes away with the cultivation of corn that is free from chemicals,as would be possible when planted by Iowa farmers. The change toindustry production also informs on why corn is referred to as King.This is because its production changed from farm production tomassive plantation.

The evidence presented in the movie supports the arguments. Theprotagonists consult experts, involving lecturers as well asnutritionists that suppose the corn business permits United States’obesity epidemic through high fructose corn syrup. The film alsoincorporates the contribution of Earl Butz, who is credited for theformation of the current government subsidy structure, which isimportant in explaining how large-scale corn production becomesprobable. Ellis and Cheney also go to cattle ranchers, as well asmajor Colorado’s feedlots where animals are reared and fed on corndiet while being restricted in pens. The characters also visitBrooklyn where they come across Trey Mendez. Mendez is a taxi driverthat narrates his issues with diabetes and being overweight, which heclaims arise from consuming many soft drinks (Woolf, 2007). Anotherindividual they meet is Loren Cordain. He is a professional in cropand animal production at Colorado University. Cordain argues thatsteak from animals fed on corn comprises of 9grams of fat saturation,which is much higher when compared to 1.5 grams of livestock fed ongrass (Woolf, 2007).

The strongest point derives from the fact that the film is able tolink massive corn production with the problems of obesity anddiabetes facing the American population. The characters through theircorn plantation experience explain how corn can be traced in almostevery American meal. The most surprising point is that hair test canbe employed in approximating the amount of corn found in a diet. Thepoint results in misleading outcomes when used in the film. This isbecause the test is incapable of making a disparity amid a carbonatom deriving from animals fed on corn or any other type of feed.


Woolf, A. (2007). King Corn. Wisconsin Film Festival: USA.