The High Cost of Low Prices

Background Information:

  • Director: Robert Greenwald
  • About the Film: Includes worker interviews, small business owner interviews, and clips of executives as well as statistics about Wal-Mart
  • Purpose: To persuade the audience that Wal-Mart is unethical, destructive, and discriminatory and encourage people to take action against Wal-mart's negative
  • Argument: Wal-Mart has an overpowering ability over marketing and has become a monopoly. Their morals are corrupt and take advantage of manufacturing resources as well as workers in the U.S.
  • Types of Evidence: Facts, Statistics, and Personal Testimonies

Visual Style/Techniques:

  • The documentary reveals multiple stories of average, relatable individuals by filming clips of their everyday experiences and negative impact of Wal-mart in their lives.
  • The camera is often zoomed in on individuals in an attempt to create a more personal connection with the audience.
  • Music stops abruptly and simultaneously with a loud banging sound when facts are presented to alert the audience of daunting statistics.
  • Songs such as "America the Beautiful" are played to evoke patriotism within the audience and elicit anger towards actions of Wal-mart that are unpatriotic while a song about victory is played at the end of the documentary to enthuse their argument and call the audience to action.
  • Black and white pictures are shown to represent the past.

Analysis of Rhetoric:


  • Pathos: Strong negative emotions are evoked towards the callous, rapacious attitude of Wal-Mart through many personal interviews. The small businesses closing as a result of Wal-Mart's monopoly elicits sympathy as well as a patriotic attitude. However, these interviews are extremely biased as they come from disgruntled employees.
  • Mood: The mood of the film was largely critical, denunciatory, but sanguine at the end.
  • Mode: Expository and Observational
  • Logos: Many statistics are used to contrast the statements of the CEO, Lee Scott.
  • Ethos: Ethos is present in the credibility of the Wal-Mart employees from the interview as well as Lee Scott's executive status
  • Juxtaposition: CEO Lee Scott's statements vs. the statistics shown throughout video starkly contrast one another.

CLIP: 15:04-15:30

  • Bandwagon Fallacy: The end of the video almost chaotically overwhelms and appeals to the audience with multiple voice overs and wild, flying graphics, provoking them to instantaneously and intensely agree with their argument

CLIP: 1:32:35-1:37:36

Counter Argument:

The Counter Argument/Refutation is almost non-existent. The only time the other side of the argument is presented is when the CEO, Lee Scott, presents Wal-Mart's ideals and Wal-mart commercials are played. The documentary fails to acknowledge the convenience and assets of the low prices Wal-Mart provides as well as the other benefits to host communities that the store provides.

CLIP: 7:20-12:50

Some evidence in the film is also misleading information. There is not a clear connection between Wal-Mart's impact and the store's closing.


While this documentary fails to effectively refute the other side of the argument, it does successfully antagonize Wal-Mart and create a negative public opinion from the audience while encouraging them to act against its monopoly.

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by: Hope H