Documentary Review: ‘The Magic Of Heineken’ Shows It’s Not Only About The Beer


Greetings again from the darkness. The iconic green bottle is from Holland, not Germany. It’s a product of which the Dutch are proud. Founded in 1864, the family was forced to sell in the aftermath of WWII, and thanks to Freddy, the family bought it back and remains in control today. Heineken … it’s all about the beer.

An archival opening statement from Alfred (Freddy) Heineken speaks about his grandfather and father, who founded and helped build the family business. We then move into a musical montage of advertisements old and new, footage of breweries and bottling plants, and many Heineken images – some familiar, others not. The movie then takes us through four generations of the family who have run and influenced the global growth.

Some pieces of this story are quite interesting. Running through 70 operating companies covering 180 countries, we share the globetrotting trek through breweries in Amsterdam, Europe, the Congo, Vietnam and Poland. Especially fascinating is the grand opening of a huge facility in China. Chemistry plays a role in the success of the beer as we learn in the segment about Heineken “A-yeast”, as well as the company’s approach to hops and barley farming. There is even a kidnapping that made international news.
This family owned business is presented as the ultimate socially responsible organization. Their Heineken Foundation helps the underprivileged in Nigeria, plus running numerous other medical clinics around the world. They are also committed to recycling and encouraging socially responsible drinking.

Even learning about the “smiling e’s” in the logo, and the marketing commitment to social media, sports, music and other cultural events helps us understand what makes the company successful. What never quite clicks is the purpose of director Michael John Warren’s film. Is it a recruiting film for the firm? Is it purely propaganda? Is it an ego piece for the family? It could even be an attempt to drive up the price of a possible sale of the company? As viewers, we can’t answer these questions, as we are just supposed to accept this love fest as proof that not only is the beer tasty, but Heineken is a friend to the global economy. Maybe it’s not all about the beer.

Just in time to celebrate its 150th year anniversary, THE MAGIC OF HEINEKEN will be released simultaneously in theaters (New York and other major cities in the U.S.) and on Premium VOD starting October 7, 2014 followed by its general VOD and DVD release on November 4, 2014.

Latest posts by David Ferguson (see all)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.