To say that Heineken is a little beer is a bit misleading. Sure it comes in those small green bottles that beer drinkers have come to know and love. But the company itself is no small thing. Instead it’s gradually worked its way into becoming one of the biggest world beer companies around. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
THE MAGIC OF HEINEKEN is a documentary about the family owned brewing company that is responsible for Heineken beer. While some could call this a propaganda piece for the company I found it instead to be a fascinating look behind the company from start to current plans. And this is coming from someone who doesn’t drink beer!
The movie has a back and forth flow to it, opening with clips of commercials that result in the background song “The Golden Age” by The Asteroids Galaxy Tour, a song that many will recognize from Heineken’s commercials a few years back. It then moves into what is going on with the company and then delves into its history via the use of stop motion animation. Being a sucker for stop motion animation this got my interest right from the start. It also says a lot about the company and how they do things. Where they do indeed use modern machines to produce their product they also continue to use things from the past as well. The most important of these is a desire for perfection.
Some people might think they know Heineken but they’d be wrong. Most people think of it as a German beer but the fact is the company began in 1864 in Holland. They still have a main brewery there to this day. What about the green bottles that are synonymous with the company? Well they weren’t always that way. Those began when they came to the US and family member Freddie studied advertising, changing the fortunes of the family that had been bought out by other stockholders. Enough so that he regained the family majority ownership.
The movie continues moving back and forth in time to the current period where we see them opening up a new plant in China. This intertwines with an explanation of how they became global, purchasing breweries in other countries and taking along with them the production of not just their product but long standing recognizable names from those locations as well. It’s not just about taking over but blending in.
The company also has a long history of family association as well depicted here. Not just with their own family but with those of the people that work for them. They attempt to keep up with good wages, health benefits and donate to causes that attempt to raise people up from poor surrounding into better ones.
The production values of the film are up to the task at hand. Not only are the stop motion pieces I mentioned earlier done well but the combination of stock footage from the past mixed with newly filmed pieces works quite well.
As I said, the movie could be mistaken for a puff piece on Heineken but that’s a cynics point of view, a conspiracy lovers dream that every film that speaks fondly of its center piece must invariably be hiding something. The fact is that sometimes there are good people in charge of companies that actually make a quality product. Since I don’t drink beer I couldn’t say but people I know speak highly of the brand. Knowing what there is going on behind the scenes past and present makes them seem even better than I thought before.
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