For the past five years or so, documentary maker Anthony Baxter had been covering the story of a water supply that had been cut off in rural Aberdeenshire in North-East Scotland. It doesn't sound like much when you put it like that, but it belonged to one elderly pensioner, Molly Forbes, and the only access she had to water had been the bottled variety and what she could occasionally gather from her well. The reason for this was the man who was soon to become Leader of the Free World, Donald Trump, who had ensured through seemingly underhand means in collusion with the Scottish Government that a luxury golf course was built on protected land. In the process he rode roughshod over the law and made the residents' lives a misery...
If you had seen the other two instalments in Baxter's trilogy, you would know this story and even followed it keenly as it became ever more relevant as the 2016 US Presidential election loomed. Or at least you would have been able to had the third entry been released, yet while there were reviews available from critics praising the project's tenacity, the documentary was nowhere to be seen, as if it had never been made at all. In 2020, we found out why: Baxter admitted the release had been quashed by the Trump organisation because they threatened legal action towards anyone who showed it, leaving the director in a four-year battle to get his work viewed and overthrow the restrictions preventing that happening, perhaps for good.
Now we can see it, was it worth the wait? Baxter certainly seemed to think if this film had been seen before the 2016 elections it could have stopped Trump's win, albeit a win that succeeded without a majority - it was certainly close, so Baxter may have been vindicated in his belief if the Trump people thought this David and Goliath tale would have an effect. For that reason, you could regard the release as locking the stable door after the horse had bolted, though with another election coming up and Trump's Presidency looking weak, perhaps Baxter was hoping that this time he would succeed in taking down a man he clearly regarded as his nemesis, but for Trump Baxter was simply another pest to shoo away among millions pointing out the vertiginous difference between his big talk and his poor judgement.
Yet there remained information here, and the human story, that could not help but raise the viewer's ire unless they were determined not to accept what they were watching. Forbes' son Michael becomes emblematic of the way the world has gone, with the little people, as Trump patronisingly calls us, kept in our place by powerful interests with vast amounts of wealth to prop them up, meaning Michael's standing up for what should be basic human rights easily becomes heroic. Indeed, it's difficult not to laugh when after hearing about all these appalling lapses in ethics we are offered clips of Trump and his family and supporters saying how great he is: they look utterly delusional. But Trump did not do this alone: when he was pals with then-Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond, he was allowed to do whatever he wanted by him, which meant destruction of precious land for a handful of local jobs, not the thousands promised. Trump and Salmond then fell out, but Trump's influence continues, and according to this the Scottish Government will allow him to continue building on the formerly protected land, which includes the homes of the residents we see dumbfounded that this scandal has come to them. As a film, it's a scrappy patchwork, but as a message, all too typical of our time: money talks, but so does bullshit these days, apparently.
[You've Been Trumped Too is released on demand on iTunes, Amazon, GooglePlay, Journeyman VOD and Vimeo from 18th August.