Dr. Bronner's Magic Soapbox: A DVD Review

A 3-Star Documentary

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Dr. Bronner: Author of the Moral ABC

This is a fairly short (88 minutes) and interesting documentary created in 2006 about the life of Dr. Emmanuel H. Bronner, the eccentric maker of Dr. Bronner's concentrated castile soap and author of the "Moral ABC" which is printed on the label of each and every bottle of soap! Although his parents were killed in the Holocaust, Bronner promoted a belief in the goodness and unity of humanity. Emmanuel Bronner immigrated to the US in 1929 and tried very hard to convince his parents to come with him; however, his father felt that the troubles Germany was facing would blow over. The last Bronner heard from his parents was a postcard from his father saying, "You were right. —Your loving father."

Dr. Bronner started out making his soap at home, by hand. He used the soap to promote his idea: The Moral ABC - All-One-God-Faith. Bronner referred to many religious as well as secular sources in creating his belief system. He traveled around the country to spread the word. He was a very dramatic speaker and did not shirk from argument with his audience. As a consequence, he was arrested during a presentation at the University of Chicago in 1947. He was placed in a mental institution in Elgin, Illinois where he underwent shock therapy. Eventually he escaped and made his way to California.

Dr. Bronner was less than an ideal husband and father. He moved his family around and really paid a lot more attention to his soap making and proselytizing than to his children. After the death of Mrs. Bronner, the children were in and out of foster care. When he was present in his children's lives, he played favorites, preferring his blond-haired, blue-eyed children over his son, Ralph, who looked quite a bit like him and quite Jewish.

Nonetheless, his children stepped in and helped him with his business as they matured and he began to lose his sight and his health. Today, the children run a thriving business in which the highest paid officers of the company cannot make more than five times the amount of the lowest paid worker, and workers can expect generous annual profit-sharing bonuses. The company is run in a Moral ABC - All-One fashion that takes into account the needs of the workers, the needs of the people producing the basic ingredients, and the needs of the planet.

Ralph travels the US sharing soap and the good word and paying respect to the memory of his father.

I give Dr. Bronner's soap 5 stars! It's great stuff! I give Dr. Bronner's Magic Soapbox 3 stars. It is good and interesting and definitely worth watching. Be sure to watch the special features to learn about the way the company is run today. It is very uplifting.

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Original comments...

This review was originally part of a larger article that became too cumbersome. Here are the original comments:

I saw the movie as well and it was extremely interesting to tap into the mind of the "man behind the soap." He definitely was somewhat of an eccentric and I thought it was good of his children to step in and take over the business regardless of how things may have been between them and their father. Great review! (Veronica Allen )
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Yes, and actually, when you think about it, what he did was probably for the best. I don't think he was exactly cut out to be a full-time Dad! :D (justmesuzanne)

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Comments 5 comments

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

Quite interesting. I had not heard of him. I remember glycerin soap from somewhere.


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks

Suzanne, you did a very good job of covering this. I think it just might be too depressing for us, though. Lots of good intentions, but unhappy and mixed results.


justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 5 years ago from Texas Author

Thanks, guys! It's not particularly depressing, but it might not be your cup of tea. It's mostly interesting, and I find it rather astounding that Dr. Bronner's son does so much to honor his memory, all things considered.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago

Thank you an excellent review. I haven't seen—or even heard of it—but I love documentaries. Well done!


justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 5 years ago from Texas Author

Thanks! :)

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