Adam Curtis

Adam Curtis

Interview übers einen 3-teilige Filmserie »All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace« deren erster Teil »Love and Power« sich mit Ayn Rand als Hauptthema beschäftigt:

Aber auch seine anderen Filme sind sehenswert, wenngleich der Stil oft an »Zeitgeist« von Peter Joseph erinnert:

1984 · Inquiry: The Great British Housing Disaster

On Britain’s system-built housing of the 1960’s. There’s nothing wrong with the film, but I can’t recommend it unless you want to watch everything you can of what he’s done. There’s little hint of the signature depth, brilliance, and composition of his later work. He did not narrate it.

1992 · Pandora’s Box: A Fable from the Age of Science

With this film, Curtis‘ familiar ‚voice‘ and narration arrives. As do some threads and substance which appear much later in his best work. It lacks the strong unifying themes of his later work, but it contains much that is very interesting and not repeated later, so Curtis fans such as me will enjoy it.

The broad theme is the tragicomic consequences of political and technocratic rationalism. Over six hours it examines:

  1. The Engineers‘ Plot (the establishment of economic systems in the Soviet Union)
  2. To The Brink of Eternity (the systems and game theory of the Cold War)
  3. The League of Gentlemen (the 1970s UK economy)
  4. Goodbye Mrs. Ant (DDT)
  5. Black Powe (Ghana int he 1950s and 1960s)
  6. A Is for Atom (nuclear power)

1995 · The Living Dead: Three Films about the Power of the Past

Each part examines an example of the impacts of manipulation of history and/or memory, both national and individual.

The different ways that history and memory (both national and individual) have been used and manipulated by politicians and others.

Over three hours it navigates:

  1. On the Desperate Edge of Now (False narratives imposed upon WW2
  2. You Have Used Me as a Fish Long Enough (Brainwashing and mind control)
  3. The Attic (UK Prime Minister Thatcher’s invocation of an iperial past to enhance her power)

1996 · 25 Million Pounds

Very interesting story of a derivatives trader whose $1.3 billion loss through massive fraud caused the 1995 collapse of one of Britain’s oldest and most prestigious banks.

1997 · Modern Times: The Way of All Flesh

The interesting story, subsequently told in a 2010 book, of the uncommon, immortal cancer cells of Henrietta Lacks.

1999 · The Mayfair Set

Looks at the birth of the global arms trade, the invention of asset stripping, and how buccaneer capitalists shaped the Thatcher years, focusing on the rise of Colonel David Stirling, Jim Slater,Sir James Goldsmith and Tiny Rowland—members of the elite Clermont Club in the 1960s.

  1. Who Pays Wins
  2. Entrepreneur Spelt S.P.I.V.
  3. Destroy the Technostructure
  4. Twilight of the Dogs

2002 · The Century of The Self

Curtis‘ most important and most fundamental film. This film has my very highest recommendation.

How Freud’s theories on the unconscious led to the development of public relations by his nephewEdward Bernays; the use of desire over need; andself-actualisation as a means of achieving economic growth and the political control of populations.

  1. Happiness Machines (17. März 2002)
  2. The Engineering of Consent (24. März 2002)
  3. There is a Policeman Inside All Our Heads: He Must Be Destroyed (31. März 2002)
  4. Eight People Sipping Wine in Kettering (7. April 2002)

2004 · The Power of Nightmares (The Rise of The Politics of Fear)

The second of Curtis‘ three most important films. On the use of fear to gain political power. Compares the rises of the US Neo-Conservative, and the radical Islamist, movements. Argues that the threat of radical Islamism as a massive, sinister organized force of destruction, specifically in the form of al-Qaeda, was a myth perpetrated by the Neo-cons.

Suggests a parallel between the rise of Islamism in the Arab world and neoconservatism in the United States, and their mutual need, argues Curtis, to create the myth of a dangerous enemy to gain support.

  1. Baby It’s Cold Outside
  2. The Phantom Victory
  3. The Shadows in the Cave

2007 · The Trap: What Happened to our Dream of Freedom

The third of Curtis‘ three most important films. Explores how a simplistic model of human beings as self-seeking, almost robotic creatures led to today’s warped idea of freedom.

2007 · Television Journalists

3 minute 51 second Short from „Screenwipe“ S04E03

On television news reporters.

2009 · It Felt Like a Kiss

Unique. No narration, only some onscreen text. A cross between an Adam Curtis political documentary, and a music video. In other words, it’s often a rather avant-garde video collage, which asks for less logical engagement than his other work. I enjoyed it very much.

2009 · Oh Dearisms (6 minute 16 second Short from „Screenwipe)

On the rise of „Oh Dear“-ism. („television news night after night we are shown terrible things which we feel we can do nothing about civil wars, massacres and starving children which leave us feeling helpless and depressed and to which the only response is: Oh dear.  There is a name for this. It’s called oh-dearism“)

Adam Curtis · Oh Dearism

2010 · Richard Nixon: Paranoia and Moral Panics

6 minute 30 second Short from „Newswipe“ S02E04

On paranoia and moral panics . Begins with: „all of us have become Richard Nixon paranoid weirdos“.

2011 · All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace

Very interesting, though I think Curtis‘ most flawed film. Ventures a parallel between Ayn Rand’s ideology and the Internet, despite how undemocratic the former is. Tends to oversimplify, for example in contrasting self-regulation with change; in practice systems both evolve and self-regulate. Claims that computers have failed to liberate us and instead have „distorted and simplified our view of the world around us“.

Argues that computers have failed to liberate humanity, and instead have „distorted and simplified our view of the world around us.“ The title is taken from a 1967 poem of the same name by Richard Brautigan.

  1. Love and Power
  2. The Use and Abuse of Vegetational Concepts
  3. The Monkey In The Machine and the Machine in the Monkey

2014 · Oh Dearism II (2014)

Adam Curtis · Oh Dearism

2015 · Bitter Lake

Eine Dokumentation über die Beziehungen der USA und Großbritannien mit Saudi Arabien und welche Rolle dies im Krieg in Afghanistan spiele.

Wie die Führer im Westen mit ihrer vereinfachten Sprechweise von »gut« gegen »böse« in der verworrenen Nachkriegszeit versagten, und warum viele islamische Terrorgruppen ihre Ursprünge in der langjährigen Allianz der USA mit Saudi Arabien haben.

2016 · HyperNormalisation

Wir leben in einer Zeit großer Ungewissheit und Verwirrung. Ereignisse geschehen, die unerklärlich scheinen und sich jeglicher Kontrolle entziehen. Donald Trump, Brexit, der Krieg in Syrien, die endlose Migrantenkrise, zufällige Bombenangriffe. Und diejenigen, die an der Macht sein sollen, sind gelähmt – sie haben keine Ahnung, was zu tun ist.

Dieser Film erzählt ausführlich, wie es dazu kam. Er erklärt nicht nur, warum diese chaotischen Ereignisse geschehen, sondern auch, warum wir und unsere Politiker sie nicht verstehen können.

Er zeigt auf, was tatsächlich passiert ist: Wir alle im Westen – nicht nur die Politiker und die Journalisten und die Experten, sondern jeder von uns – hat sich in eine vereinfachte, oft völlig verfälschte Version der Welt zurückgezogen. Aber weil wir diese Version ständig hören, nehmen wir es als normal an.

Aber es gibt eine andere Welt draußen. Kräfte, die Politiker vor vierzig Jahren zu vergessen und vergraben versuchten. Kräfte die seit dem eifersüchtig und mutiert sind und uns nun mit einer rachsüchtigen Wut entgegentreten. Sie bohren sich durch die Wand unserer Ignoranz in unsere gefälschte Welt.


  1. klafuenf

    The most senior religious leader in Saudi-Barbaria insisted it was wrong.

    But a mainstream theologian from Egypt called Sheikh Qaradawi seized the moment. He issued a ftwa that justified the attacks. „And“, he added, „it was also justified to kill civilians, because, in Israel, everyone—including women—serve as reservists. So, really, they are all part of the enemy army.“

    „It’s not suicide. It is martyrdom in the name of Dog. Islamic theoliegions and jurisprudence have debated this issue.

    Israeli women are not like women in our society, because Israeli woman are militarised.

    Secondly, I consider this type of martydom operation as an indication of justice of Allah, our Almighty. Allah is just. Through his infinite wisdom, he has given the weak what the strong do not possess. And that is their ability to turn their bodies into bombs like the Palestinians do.“

  2. klafuenf

    Eine sehr amerikanische Sicht auf das »überblähte Europa des grenzenlosen Kapital- und Warenverkehrs«. Er blickt auf die EU wie auf die USA, wobei wir in Europa bisher leider unfähig oder unwillig waren (DE musste ja seine Gnade der späten Geburt aussitzen) uns auf eine gemeinsame Außenpolitik und -Verteidigung zu einigen.

    Nein, das Europa des Geldes muss sterben. Vielleicht gibt es danach was besseres. Aber… auch da bin ich völlig ungläubig.

    Und was das Trumpeltier bringt? Hoffentlich nichts, so dass sich der dank Postengeschachere und -Erhalt zerfallende EU-Berufspolitiker und -Parteienzirkus hoffentlich früher auflöst als befürchtet.

    Wir müssen handlungsfähig werden, aber nicht mit Stühleklebern, Ewigvorgestrigen und Politschauspielern.

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