Adam Curtis


  • I have a new film going up on iPlayer this Sunday - the 16th. Here’s a background to what the film is about. And a trail.

    We live in a time of great uncertainty and confusion. Events keep happening that seem inexplicable and out of control. Donald Trump, Brexit, the War in Syria, the endless migrant crisis, random bomb attacks. And those who are supposed to be in power are paralysed - they have no idea what to do.

    This film is the epic story of how we got to this strange place. It explains not only why these chaotic events are happening - but also why we, and our politicians, cannot understand them.

    It 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.


    The film has been made specially for iplayer - and is a giant narrative spanning forty...

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    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.

    And journalism - that used to tell a grand, unfurling narrative - now also just relays disjointed and often wildly contradictory fragments of information.

    Events come and go like waves of a fever. We - and the journalists - live in a state of continual delirium, constantly waiting for the next news event to loom out of the fog - and then disappear again, unexplained.

    And the formats - in news and documentaries - have become so rigid and repetitive that the audiences never really look at them.

    In the face of this people retreat from journalism and politics. They turn away into their own worlds, and the stories they and their friends tell each other.

    I think this is wrong, sad, and bad for democracy -...

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  • In the battle for Kobane on the Syrian border everyone talks about the enemy - IS - and the frightening ideas that drive them. No-one talks about the Kurdish defenders and what inspires them.

    But the moment you look into what the Kurds are fighting for - what you discover is absolutely fascinating. They have a vision of creating a completely new kind of society that is based on the ideas of a forgotten American revolutionary thinker.

    He wanted to create a future world in which there would be no hierarchies, no systems that exercise power and control individuals. And the Kurds in Kobane are trying to build a model of that world.

    It means that the battle we are watching night after night is not just between good and evil. It is also a struggle of an optimistic vision of the future against a dark conservative idea drawn from the past.

    It is a struggle that may also have great relevance to us in the west. Because the revolutionary ideas that have inspired the Kurds also shine a powerful...

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  • This is really just an excuse to show a wonderful film about vegetables.

    But it is also about how modern science has radically changed in a way that hasn’t been fully understood.

    How it has gone from promising extraordinary new worlds of the future - to become a powerfully conservative force that holds progress back and tends to keep people in their place.

    And the odd role vegetables have...

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  • If you are an American politician today, as well as an entourage you also have a new, modern addition. You have what's called a "digital tracker". They follow you everywhere with a high-definition video camera, and they are employed by the people who want to destroy your political career.

    It's called "opposition research" and the aim is to constantly record everything you say and do. The files...

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  • Nobody trusts anyone in authority today.

    It is one of the main features of our age. Wherever you look there are lying politicians, crooked bankers, corrupt police officers, cheating journalists and double-dealing media barons, sinister children's entertainers, rotten and greedy energy companies and out-of-control security services.

    And what makes the suspicion worse is that practically no-one...

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  • Lots of people are gripped by the Francois Hollande affair - and they are gripped on two levels.

    One is a fascination not just with the details - but with the fact that such a plain man can have such a glamorous love life.

    The other is how strange it is that the French don't seemed to be gripped in the way we are. They seem to be weird and old-fashioned in their belief that there is a...

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  • Every month or so there is a new scandal - mass snooping by the NSA, allegations of price-fixing by giant energy companies, major banks corruptly rigging interest rates, giant modern bureaucracies like Serco and G4S ripping off the taxpayer, children's entertainers from the past charged with sexual abuse. 

    But these stories never seem to add up to a bigger picture. They are isolated events ....

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  • Much of the debate about whether to intervene in Syria or not is taking place in a strange ahistorical vacuum. As with so much debate about humanitarian intervention the underlying world view is of a simplified story of bad dictators and good, well intentioned westerners who must somehow intervene to stop him.

    But the truth is that America has a very complicated relationship with Syria which...

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  • The recent revelations by the whistleblower Edward Snowden were fascinating. But they - and all the reactions to them - had one enormous assumption at their heart.

    That the spies know what they are doing.

    It is a belief that has been central to much of the journalism about spying and spies over the past fifty years. That the anonymous figures in the intelligence world have a dark omniscience....

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