The film begins and ends with excerpts from a speech by Jiddu Krishnamurti. The remainder of the film is narrated by Peter Joseph and divided into four parts, each prefaced by an on-screen quotation from a notable scholar: Krishnamurti, John Adams, Bernard Lietaer, and Thomas Paine, respectively.
- Part I
Part One states that money is the most corrosive societal tradition and explains the monetary system and its policies in the United States through the fractional reserve banking system as illustrated in the book, “Modern Money Mechanics”. In clarifying, Part One explains how money creation as an exchange between the government and the central bank (Federal Reserve in the U.S.), creates a perpetual cycle of interest and inflation, summarizing that money and debt are necessarily correlated and increasing.
- Part II
Part Two shares an interview with John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hitman, who said he was involved in the subjugation of Latin American economies by multinational corporations, including the United States government’s involvement in the overthrow and installation of various Latin American heads-of-state.
- Part III
Part Three introduces Jacque Fresco and The Venus Project, and asserts a need to move away from the current socioeconomic paradigms. Fresco states that free market enterprise and capitalism do not promote efficiency, abundance nor human progress, but rather they instead encourage artificial creation of scarcity to maximize profits, encourage suboptimal technological development in order to maintain cyclical consumption, put the interest of people second to monetary gain, and engage in the production of pollution, as well as other forms of environmental degradation to lower operating costs.
Fresco states that capitalism perpetuates the conditions it claims to address, as problems are only solved if there is money to be made and if more money can be made by propagating the problem rather than solving it, the problem will be propagated.
- Part IV
Part Four explores the idea that all major social problems are ultimately the result of wide-scale ignorance concerning the two concepts of emergence and symbiosis—an ignorance maintained by the political, monetary, and religious institutions. This fourth part maintains a cosmopolitan attitude, and states that human societies are part of an interdependent universe. It suggests several means of social change, largely via non-violent boycotting and educating, in order to oppose rigid social institutions.
The film concludes in a sequence depicting actors as members of the fast-paced modern world suddenly stopping in their everyday activities and letting go of various symbolic items of corporate, religious, and materialistic significance. The final statement of the film is to boycott the most powerful banks in the Federal Reserve System, the major news networks (CNN, ABC, NBC, Fox, etc.), the military, energy corporations, and the so-called “democratic” political system; and to join, support, and proliferate The Zeitgeist Movement.
The New York Times reported that Peter Joseph describes the mission of his movement as “the application of the scientific method for social change”, and that his films Zeitgeist, the Movie (2007) and Zeitgeist: Addendum (2008) have been watched by 50 million people around the world. They also noted that while the former was famous for its alleging that the attacks of September 11 were an inside job, the second film “was all but empty of such conspiratorial notions, directing its rhetoric and high production values toward posing a replacement for the evils of the banking system and a perilous economy of scarcity and debt.”