A fascinating, complex, precisely syncopated four-part suite that both identifies a prevailing monomania -- the centrality of the consuming self in contemporary culture -- and exemplifies a monomania of its own by overlooking various prominent counter-tendencies of the 20th century, from class, race, and national identification to the communitarian pretensions of fascism and family-values conservatism. Searing stuff.
I saw this when it first came on TV and it altered my thinking. Curtis dismembers the 20th century self with surgical finesse. His selection and editing of archive material is a masterful appeal to the image hungry zip-edit generation, and is the perfect foil to a soaring yet penetrating polemic. All should watch.
“The twentieth century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: the growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy."
BBC doc w/ tons of nifty archival clips, some of which aren't even really of what the narrator is talking about, but they work so well as symbolism for what is being discussed that they slip by entertainingly. My favorite clip is of Sigmund Freud littering. But the images and ideas are repeated ad nauseum, and by the time we get to the fourth episode (Blair, Reagan, Thatcher, Clinton) it becomes unbearably boring.