Somehow spectacularizing in the standard manner of A. Curtis but elaborate nevertheless. The emphasis is placed on the second half of the 20th century, with all the activities around acting-out excercises, debates over commodification of life, and the entire American quest for authenticity.
Every once in awhile, I want a little dose of the truth. The fact is that the truth hurts. You can't take too much of it at a time. This is 4 hours long, and I like it because it expands upon things he's dealt with before, and will touch on again in later docs. This one goes into great detail on the jackal headed demon known as Edward Bernays, who considered all people to be idiots who need to be controlled. Nice.
This magnificent documentary marks the beginning of a sprawling conversation with masterful filmmaker Adam Curtis about why and how we became the way we are, for better or worse, in Western Civilization. Some things about democracy and capitalism can't be unseen...
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.
Essential watching. P.R. phrase coined to replace word propaganda, how was woman smoking cigarettes taboo lifted, add an egg strategy to give housewife contentment, "people must be trained to desire", mass democracy "engineering consents", ... and many more that brought us to where/who we are. No wonder, once you sit in the wrong train all stops leads you to Trump and Clinton alike wrong stops.
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.
Employing neither the tone of righteous disapproval expected in U.S. political discourse nor an appeal to nostalgia, Curtis traces individualism's history: Bernays adapts Freud's idea of subconscious desire, invents PR; psychoanalysis rises to combat perceived widespread mental illness; later psychoanalysts reject control, favor self-actualizing; politics mirrors business, sells you you. Mathematical, metal, 'mazing.