Influence Documentary Review: A Fitting Tale of Bell Pottinger’s Fall

influence bell pottinger documentary review

Influence is a film documentary about the rise and fall of ad agency, Bell Pottinger, as well as, the co-founder, Timothy Bell, who ran campaigns for top political figures and used propaganda to consolidate power, gain wealth and cause chaos at the expense of the masses around the world.

The documentary starts off with a scene of Timothy Bell sitting down while real-life dialogue, news reports, and the causes and effects of campaigns and PR he ran in the media space, served as a narration. 

A narration powerful enough to pull you in and get you in the right frame of mind for the journey you are about to embark on.

Shot in six cities across five countries, Influence takes you on a history lesson and a journey around the world with Timothy Bell at the front and centre of some of the biggest political impacts in recent years.

He starts off running Margaret Thatcher’s successful campaign in The UK and gets her in the position of power history will come to celebrate her by.

influence bell pottinger documentary review

After conquering the UK scene, Tim Bell takes his campaigns outside the shores of Britain to run successful PR campaigns that changed the narratives in countries like Iraq, and put people in positions of power in countries like Chile and most notably South Africa, which became a major factor in the fall of Bell Pottinger.

Influence lends itself to the threads of history and pulls enough to unravel as much information as possible in a slow-paced manner meant to rope you in. And while it succeeds in doing so, the journey almost felt like forever until the second arc began.

There were pauses in between sentences and transitions that would have been either better filled with anything other than complete silence, or just removed totally to get the story moving and keep audiences from snoozing off. 

It felt like you could get lost in what was happening if you didn’t already know the history behind the documentary and why it was executed.

From about forty-two minutes in to the end of the film, Influence transformed and I felt like I was watching something else entirely. 

I finally got a feel of the narrative and enjoyed a documentary that was more entertaining and exhilarating unlike what I had watched up until that point.

What I found most notable was how Influence didn’t try to humanise Tim Bell and the many problems his PR campaigns caused.

influence bell pottinger documentary review

It told the story as it was, and the fact that people who were involved in the respective outcomes of Tim’s Influence, like the former president of  South Africa, FW de Klerk, and even Tim Bell himself, appeared on the documentary to explain or refute the narratives, was enough to augment the powerful story and give viewers both a history lesson and a knowledge worth having.

Is Influence a documentary worth watching? Yes, it is. It shows how much influence the media can have in making and breaking nations. And thrills or reminds audiences of a history lesson we desperately need to make better future choices both as a people and as humanity in its entirety.

Influence is available to watch free for a limited time here



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