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An Inside Look at the Lives of the Heirs to The Worlds Greatest Family Fortunes
Jamie Johnson, 20-year-old heir to the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical empire, turns in a remarkable documentary about the lives of the children of the wealthiest families in the world. This 2003 Sundance Film Festival Selection and Emmy-nominated documentary shows Johnson turning the camera on himself and 10 of his friends. Born Rich candidly reveals the great privileges and the excess baggage that go along with their high net worth. For the first time ever in a feature documentary, hear Trumps, Bloombergs and Vanderbilts discuss the one subject everybody knows is taboomoney, and lots of it.
Georgianna Bloomberg, media heiress
Stephanie Ercklentz, finance heiress
Cody Franchetti, textile heir
Christina Floyd, professional sports heiress
Juliet Hartford, A&P Supermarket heiress
Josiah Hornblower, Vanderbilt/Whitney heir
S.I. Newhouse IV, media heir
Ivanka Trump, real estate heiress
Luke Weill, gaming industry heir
Carlo von Zeitschel, European royalty
-Commentary by director Jamie Johnson, producer Dirk Wittenborn and textile heir Cody Franchetti
"Great fun will drop your jaw to the floor." -- Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
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In ancient China and Japan, commoners were not even allowed to look upon the faces of royalty. And, although the rich people in this documentary are, with one exception, (a descendant of Count Otto von Bismark and other European royalty), not royals, they are, all of them, very, Very, VERY rich. And they speak here as themselves, truthfully and candidly. It is a very refreshing change from the usual documenataries of self-absorbed movie stars, or worse, criminals.
Each person here IS an individual. Aside from the wealth they all possess, there are, of course, many points of differentiation between all these individuals. One person didn't find out until he was about 9 or 10, that he was, in fact, from a wealthy family -- and he found it out in the most embarrassing way: his father's name showed up in FORBES' Magazine's list of the 400 wealthiest people in the USA -- and his elementary school teacher read the article to his class! Ivanka Trump recalls a moment when she and her father encountered a homeless man outside the Trump Tower, and her father mentioned that this man had about a billion, (or more) dollars more than he had, (Mr. Trump had just lost a lot of money in a business deal), and Ivanka, grounded in reality as she is, did a double-take in her mind. The European Nobleman says he'll probably marry and get a divorce, because one woman is not enough for him. One lady shows off her Hampton's Tennis Club -- and mentions that she took some Jewish friends there, and worries if there will be any reprocussions. Etc. etc. Whether you agree with these attitudes or not, it's fascinating to see them actually verbalized, and to realize that such people, ideas and life-situations, did, do, and continue to exist.
Watching the film, one wonders what has happened to the participants in the intervening years, (the documentary was made in 2003). One also admires the candor and the actual appearance in this documentary of these people, (they obviously did NOT have to appear here.) It's interesting, to, to note not only differences between these super-rich people and one's self. but also, (sometimes surprisingly), the simulariites -- after all, we're all human beings! What I admire most, I suppose, of all the participants as a group, is that they DO realize that wealth has made them different, in many respects, (but not in all), from
other people. And, as a group, they cogently and intelligently deliniate what those differences, and simularities are. I felt sad for the European royal, who used 4-letter words all the time, (making him seem so sadly common indeed), as well as his idea of continuing to womanize even after he married. (One hopes that he has found -- or will find -- a decemt. kind, and good-looking woman to change his attitudes...and speech patterns.) It was great to see Georgiana Bloomberg with her horses -- good show!
Juliet Hartford, the A&P heiress, seems totally grounded in the real world and reality itself -- whilst still enjoying the privileges which she realistically recognizes as privileges.
There is no film rating of this documentary. The "deleted scenes", however, in my mind, change my own film rating of this DVD from a "PG" to an "R". Rauchier language, and more un-politically correct views are expressed here -- and a secret or two as to the origins of one of the interviewees is discolosed. But why quibble? Despite the shortcomings of these individuals, (and, to be honest, ghetto kids as well as the Southampton-born have shortcomings!), this is a wonderful glimpse into some really grounded people -- grounded in reality despite tremendous wealth.
Watching this movie, too, one begins to feel some kind of kinship with these people -- at least, I did. No -- I don't have a million dollars, or anywhere close to it. But then, neither did the interviewees grand-fathers, or great-grand-fathers, or great-great-grand-fathers. The wealth in these famiies goes back at the most, perhaps 5 generations. Compared with, say, the Windsors, all of these charming, outgoing, and incredibly intelligent young people are, in a sense, "noveau riche". Their immediate predecessors, (or those going back as little as four or five generations), whether living in the USA or abroad, attained, through fair means, (and sometimes, yes, foul ones too), the American Dream. Even those whose forebearers were "robber barrons", however, have turned, themselves, into credible, likeable, talented, and sociable human beings. Like JFK's wealth -- which stemmed from the SOMETIMES shady dealings of his father -- the wealth these young people have inherited seems to have done them, personally, nothing but good. They are prime examples of what good the "American" dream, (where-ever it is achieved), can do. Watching this documentary can make anyone feel the talents inside him or herself bursting to come out, so that he or she can join the moneyed class -- and do as good, or better, with the money earned than the bright and brave young rich people here presented.
An enthralling and invigourating DVD to watch. I only wish this documentary was longer -- or, like the English "7 Up", had updates on the lives of these bright, grounded, and intelligent young people!