LONDON (Reuters) - Terry Jones, a founding member of the Monty Python comedy team, targets the global financial system in a provocative new documentary and warns of more meltdowns if the system isn’t fixed soon.
Jones, co-writer and co-director of “Boom Bust Boom,” uses puppetry and animation to get the message across -- as well as interviews with economist Paul Krugman, actor John Cusack, Bank of England Chief Economist Andy Haldane and others.
The film, which cost under 400,000 pounds ($594,320) to make, is getting its first public screening at Britain’s University of Manchester on March 31. Its producers say they are in talks to release it in cinemas and on video channels.
“Boom Bust Boom” is the latest in a series of documentaries on the 2008 financial crisis, including Michael Moore’s “Capitalism: A Love Story” (2009) and Charles Ferguson’s “Inside Job” (2010).
Jones said he had avoided seeing those films to have more creative freedom. His project came about when he heard from the Dutch economics professor and entrepreneur Theo Kocken, who is also the film’s co-writer, that university students were not being educated about past financial crises.
“It bugs me that teachers or professors blindly teach economics without recognizing the crashes, the real world,” Jones said in a telephone interview. “Throughout history, crashes were constantly going on.”
In the opening scene of “Boom Bust Boom,” the ex-Python, 73, shows up on Wall Street to make an on-camera announcement.
“This film is about the Achilles heel of capitalism -- how human nature drives the economy to crisis after crisis time and time again,” he declares.
For the rest of the movie, Jones pops up in unlikely places to make his point: he pokes his head in front of a pair of puppets, rides an animated choo-choo train, and interviews a Yale University academic at the behavioral research facility Monkey Island in Puerto Rico.
“Boom Bust Boom” provides a clear, blow-by-blow explanation of the 2008 crisis: how excessive lending to the non-creditworthy caused a giant bubble that eventually burst. The film then goes into great detail about past bubbles, from 17th-century Dutch tulip mania to the 1929 Wall Street crash.
It concludes that unless the teaching of economics is overhauled -- and economic models factor in instability as a normal feature of capitalism -- crises will keep happening.
“If the professors start parroting these party lines, I think you should pelt them with vegetables and rotten fruit,” actor and commentator Cusack recommends to students watching.
“That’s what I would do.”
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Editing by Michael Roddy and Mark Heinrich