Red Obsession (2013)

  • Year: 2013
  • Released: 06 Sep 2013
  • Country: Australia, China, France, United Kingdom, Hong Kong
  • Adwords: 2 wins & 4 nominations
  • IMDb:
  • Rotten Tomatoes:
  • Metacritics:
  • Available in: 720p,
  • Language: English
  • MPA Rating: Not Rated
  • Genre: Documentary, History, News
  • Runtime: 75 min
  • Writer: David Roach, Warwick Ross
  • Director: David Roach, Warwick Ross
  • Cast: Russell Crowe, Sara Eisen, Debra Meiburg
  • Keywords:
86% – Critics
70% – Audience

Red Obsession Storyline

For centuries, Bordeaux has assumed a mythical status in the world of fine wine as a leitmotif of wealth, power and influence, but its prosperity has always been linked to the capricious nature of markets and the shifting fortunes of global economies. Now change is coming to Bordeaux, with traditional customers like the US and the UK falling away, as China’s new rich push prices to stratospheric levels. The demand is unprecedented, but the product is finite and this new client wants it all. Will the China market be the bubble that never bursts or the biggest threat yet to Bordeaux’s centuries old reputation?—Anonymous

Red Obsession Photos

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Red Obsession Movie Reviews

It’s no longer about enjoying the wine…

I was only mildly interested in watching this documentary and turned it on expecting very little. After all, I rarely ever drink French wines and just don’t have much interest in them. However, I soon realized that in many ways the film isn’t really about wines at all- -it’s all a metaphor for the sudden and very dramatic rise in the Chinese economy and their subsequent buying power. It also, in many ways, is much like the entrance of Americans into the world economy in the 20th century–when some folks were more interested in spending their money on some hot commodity instead of what is quality. In the film, the Chinese elite seem too interested in specific famous labels as opposed to actually DRINKING the wines– and as a result of folks stockpiling the wines and paying top dollar, the wine prices on the ‘best’ wines are astronomical and no one can afford to drink them! All in all, a fascinating film that really gets you to think.

Nice Architecture, Too Few Facts

This is an Australian-produced doco, looking at the history of wines from Bordeaux.

It is 75 minutes long.

After 75 minutes, I was aware that they have been making wines in Bordeaux since the Romans brought the vines; that Napoleon III had the wines graded in 1855 and the grades given remain to this day; that conditions come together for a great vintage about every 20 years; that wine is bought as an investment; that Americans have stopped buying it but the Chinese now do; that some French are sniffily xenophobic about dealing with the Chinese and that if the Chinese ever stop buying, the market may collapse.

Those facts took 75 minutes to explain. 75 very long minutes.

Some nice aerial photography. And looking at beautifully designed and constructed French chateaux is always easy on the eye.

The film had a nice, laconic commentary from Russell Crowe whose smoky, tobacco-enhanced voice fitted the subject well.

But it was all just too superficial, too under-researched with not enough of interest to fill the film’s time span. Some more history would have been welcome; the Great French Wine Blight of the late 1850s post-dated Napoleon III’s gradings – didn’t the blight make them obsolete? This question wasn’t addressed but would seem fundamental to an evaluation of Bordeaux. Still, I’m sure had I gone to France’s bucolic beauty spots to research such a film, I too would have been so distracted drinking the stuff I’d have forgotten the reason for the visit.

Shame about the audience

I’m a wine person.

I have consumed, studied, taught and debated the topic for almost 30 years now. I love the stuff. But… watching this film reminded me how wound up we wine-people are in our own world.

Although I found the documentary interesting and important to know, I also recognise that this film grossed less than US$10,000- at the box office. Now, I don’t know what the budget was to make this film, but who in their right mind thought that this would be a good idea for a theatrical release? I’m guessing that enough people got together and convinced themselves that this would work. And secured enough funding from (almost surely) a wealthy wine-lover.

No rational film producer would ever have looked at the script and gone ‘Yeah, images of French châteaux, and celebrities in the wine field will be a huge hit! Let’s get Rusty to narrate and we’ve got it made!!!’

If you’re just starting to develop an interest in wine, this should be mandatory watching. Enthusiasts already know most of the content, and will probably bemoan the lack of further detail. But if wine isn’t your thing, you’ll really wish you’d spent the 75 minutes on another film.