Adam Curtis – HyperNormalisation (2016)


HyperNormalisation tells the extraordinary story of how we got to this strange time of great uncertainty and confusion – where those who are supposed to be in power are paralysed – and have no idea what to do. And, where events keep happening that seem inexplicable and out of control – from Donald Trump to Brexit, the War in Syria, the endless migrant crisis, and random bomb attacks. It explains not only why these chaotic events are happening – but also why we, and our politicians, cannot understand them.

‘The film shows that what has happened is that all of us in the West – not just the politicians and the journalists and the experts, but we ourselves – have retreated into a simplified, and often completely fake version of the world. But because it is all around us, we accept it as normal. Continue reading

Adam Curtis – Bitter Lake (2015)


Politicians used to have the confidence to tell us stories that made sense of the chaos of world events. But now there are no big stories and politicians react randomly to every new crisis – leaving us bewildered and disorientated.

Bitter Lake is a new, adventurous and epic film by Adam Curtis that explains why the big stories that politicians tell us have become so simplified that we can’t really see the world any longer.

The narrative goes all over the world, America, Britain, Russia and Saudi Arabia – but the country at the heart of it is Afghanistan. Because Afghanistan is the place that has confronted our politicians with the terrible truth – that they cannot understand what is going on any longer. Continue reading

Adam Curtis – The Trap: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom (2007)


What does freedom actually mean today? This series of films by BAFTA-winning producer Adam Curtis argues that our freedom is a limited kind of freedom. It shows how a simplistic model of human beings as self-seeking, almost robotic, creatures led to today’s idea of freedom. This model was apparently derived from techniques developed by nuclear strategists during the Cold War. Genetic biologists, anthropologists, radical psychiatrists and free market economists took it further until it became a new system of invisible control.

Part 1: F**k You Buddy
Part 2: The Lonely Robot
Part 3: We Will Force You To Be Free. Continue reading

Adam Curtis – The Century of the Self (2002)


The Century of The Self
4 Part series on how psychoanalitic theory was used by advertisers and governments in an attempt to control the public.
01 Happiness Machines: Edward Bernays and the invention of public relations and modern advertising
02 The Engineering of Consent: How the US Government turned to psychoanalytic principles after WWII as a reaction against the Nazi state. Focusing on the rise and fall of Anna Freud.
03 There Is A Policeman Inside All Our Heads. He Must Be Destroyed: How the reaction against Freudian ideas in the 1950s and 60s ended up making it even easier to control the public
04 Eight People Sipping Wine in Kettering: How the left turned to psychoanalytic principles to regain power in the US and Britain in the 1990s. Continue reading

Adam Curtis – It Felt Like a Kiss (2009)


This is not an easy film to encapsulate, so I’ll leave it to the incomparable Charlie Brooker writing in The Guardian on 20 June 2009:


Adam Curtis has gone a bit mad. The insultingly gifted documentary maker behind The Century Of The Self and The Power Of Nightmares seemed rather quiet of late. In fact, since his 2007 BBC2 series The Trap, his only visible pieces of work were two short (and superb) mini-documentaries he created for my BBC4 series Screenwipe and Newswipe. People kept asking me what he was up to. I assumed he was chipping away at some new documentary which would be announced when he was ready.

He’s ready now. He’s made a new documentary called It Felt Like A Kiss. Except it isn’t just a documentary. It’s also a piece of interactive theatre, with music composed by Damon Albarn and performed by the Kronos Quartet. And it doesn’t take place in a cinema or concert hall, but across five floors of a deserted office block in Manchester. Continue reading

Adam Curtis – The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear (2004)


BBC documentary in three parts written and produced by Adam Curtis on the history and influence of the ideologies of Islamic fundamentalism and neoconservatism

Part 1 Baby It’s Cold Outside (originally broadcast on October 20, 2004)
Part 2 The Phantom Victory (originally broadcast on October 27, 2004)
Part 3 The Shadows in the Cave (originally broadcast on November 3, 2004)
Continue reading

Adam Curtis – All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace (2011)


Newest series of polemical essay film/documentaries by Adam Curtis is both maddening and occasionally brilliant… frustrating for their reductivism and eliptical approach to complex subjects, but frankly staggering for the allusive leaps of the narrative. Truly inspired selection of music on the soundtrack, also. Anyways:

All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace

A series of films by Adam Curtis about how humans have been colonised by the machines they have built. Although we don’t realise it, the way we see everything in the world today is through the eyes of the computers. Continue reading