Corporations are nothing but a glorified parasite leaching blood out of our society. For a businessman, it is the profit that matters and not cultural values. However, are we going to take a stand against those Goliath who ruins our roots? Or will we just stand and watch? In Percy Vs Goliath, a simple farmer couldn’t stand injustice. Without resources or financial help, 70-year-old Percy Schmeiser kept his zeal high. His endeavor shook the Goliath and created a ray of hope among farmers all around the world. It is his story that we are going to witness.
‘Percy Vs Goliath’ Summary
Farming is an indigenous art. In modern times, many farmers buy genetically modified seeds from big corporations, but our protagonist, Percy Schmeiser (Christopher Walken) is a seed saver. Percy’s ancestors came to Bruno, Saskatchewan, and became farmers. In his life of 70 years, Percy had learned the art and trade of framing, in short, he has been a farmer all his life making a simple living. However, his world comes crashing down when a giant corporation Monsanto accuses Percy of using their patent GMO canola seeds without paying royalty.
Percy argues his plight suggesting to them that he has been a seed saver. A man who takes the seed from strong plants and saves it to sow the next year. He has never used any genetically modified seeds sold by Monsanto and thus is not liable to pay a settlement amount of 10 grand.
A 70-year-old dignified and self-made man Percy Schmeiser refuses to bow down in front of Goliath Corporation. He and his wife, Louise (Roberta Maxwell) approach their small town inexperienced lawyer, Jackson Weaver (Zach Braff) to fight their case against Monsanto in the court of Justice. Jackson warns them that legal battle may cost them more than 10 grand but Percy is ready to sacrifice bucks to save his dignity.
What’s the Fuss is About?
Company Monsanto claims that the canola Percy has been growing since 1997 contains a technology in the seed gene that they created. Their GMO seeds are patent and thus Percy is charged with infringement.
In a lower court case battle it is proved that a neighboring farmer, Mr.Alton Kelly applied GMO Canola Seeds created by Monsanto. Some Pollens or Seeds would have swathed and combined with Percy’s field and his farm got contaminated with GMO Canola Seeds. The error was natural and Percy wasn’t found guilty but Percy is obliged to pay all the revenue he attained from Canola Seeds from 1998 to the present time, along with Monsanto’s legal fees for the court battle. Percy is distraught.
There is one catch to the story. GMO Canola Seeds need to be sprayed with a field with a powerful herbicide called Roundup to protect the growth. Percy, however, never used the herbicide, and that same was reflected in the lab results but the court neglected the point totally.
A Ray of Hope
Percy is totally devastated. A PEP reporter, Rebecca Salcau (Christina Ricci) inflicts a ray of hope in Percy and his lawyer, Jackson. Rebecca has been fighting a battle against GMOs to stop them from entering the wheat market. A genetically modified wheat demanded the use of fertilizers that were both harmful and costly.
Rebecca convinces Percy to narrate his story to the media and public and start a revolution. His efforts will raise awareness among farmers all around the world. After a bit of hesitance, Percy agrees.
“Civilizations started when we figured how to farm. Farming is the foundation for everything we care about.”Percy
The Indian Connection
Indian had always been an agro country. Its very foundation and livelihood are built by farmers. During one conference in India, Percy Schmeiser learns that after the introduction of GMO seeds, especially the cotton modified seeds, a lot of Indian farmers committed suicide due to poverty and failed crops.
“Their seeds are not meant for our climate. It’s meant for irrigated land and it needs much more water than we have from rains.”
Percy understands the pain of Indian farmers. How does it feel to lose one’s land and their livelihood? Sometimes all a farmer could afford is death. It is not the ingenious or cultural practices of farming that have resulted in such havoc, but these corporations trying to change the game for their own benefit.
Percy finally understands that genetically modifying seeds is like changing one gene in a composition of 5000. The phenomenon could occur naturally too and can be done by a farmer in his shed. But Corporations do the same thing in labs and patent it and start calling their seeds their own. It’s like putting a label on nature in order to earn more. Corporations are going to swallow us, they only understand profits and not the cost of a farmer’s life. Film Percy Vs Goliath is an eye-opener.
‘Percy Vs Goliath’ Ending Explained
Even after losing two legal battles, Percy decides to push the case to the Supreme Court. In this final battle, Percy could lose his farm and equipment and can turn bankrupt. Still, he charges head-on, why?
The turning point of affairs arrives when Percy receives hundreds of letters from farmers around the world. Louise tells Percy that this battle is no more individualistic. What that company is doing to other farmers is wrong. Percy has been heard, has become a ray of hope for them, and if he steps back now, maybe, no one is going to take a stand against Goliath again.
“There’s a lot of farmers around the world who can’t stand up. I figure I should.”Percy
The Supreme Court decision comes with bad as well as good news. Percy doesn’t owe anything to Monsanto but the judgment says that the seeds on Percy’s farm belong to Monsanto and therefore he needs to hand over all his seeds to them. A farmer didn’t lose but he lost. Percy, the seed saver is obliged to give away all the seeds he nurtured like his own children.
Percy might have lost what he loved the most but he regained his dignity and self-respect. His story started a revolution and GMO wheat seeds were stopped from entering the agro market. But one intriguing question Percy asks, “What did I gain?”
Rebecca tells him that he is the man due to whom all those farmers in Canada, the US, and the UK won’t have to go through the same, through which Percy went. He saved them. Percy turned the tide and farmers now know that they can fight.
Thematically, the film Percy Vs Goliath explores the message that sometimes the hero might not win the battle but his journey is inspiring enough to start a revolution. Giving hope to people is a heroic job too. Percy Schmeiser was a hero.
Percy Vs Goliath is a real-life biopic that follows the inspiring journey of Percy and Louise Schmeiser. The revelation in itself is inspiring to think that once lived a man who inspired farmers around the world to stand up. If Cinema and Storytelling are a responsibility and means to spread awareness or emotions, then Percy Vs Goliath fits the bill accurately.
Technically, the screenplay is efficiently written. It builds the character arc and follows the nuances of the Hero’s journey. In a character-driven plot, it follows an unbothered cynical man who chooses to fight for what is right. His choices make him shine bright. The elements of a screenplay like the Hero’s dead end, and loss of hope, turning points have been integrated smoothly. They are hugely impacting and to some, the climax could make them weep. Steven MacKinnon has given some uplifting country music that is both inspiring and soul-stirring. Luc Montpellier’s cinematography is visually stunning. He captures the smell of the soil in his frames and the rawness of the farm life is beautifully expressed.
Christopher Walken as Percy is stunning. His minute pauses and subtexts are hard to miss. His expressions and dry-cynical tone trying to hide grief are brilliant. In India, when he is moved by the suicide story, the expression on his face steals the show. He reflects their pain and anyone on the other side of the screen could perceive them. Clark Johnson as the director of the film has done a commendable job. His work is subtle, revolutionary, and mesmerizing.
I believe watching this film shouldn’t be a matter of choice. It should be a necessity. You should not miss this one.
Percy Vs Goliath is a 2021 drama biopic film directed by Clark Johnson. It is based on the life of Percy Schmeiser, a 70-year-old Saskatchewan farmer. The film is available for Video On Demand.
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