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Adam Curtis | 14:05 UK time, Friday, 24 September 2010

Here is a bit of an experiment.

I have always wanted to make a series of films which would be like an "emotional history" that conveys what it feels like to live through history as an experience rather than a grand story. It would be about the relationship between the tiny fragments and moments of personal experience, and the continual backdrop of big events.

My dream is to make it very long - taking, say forty hours to tell the story of 1970 to now. So I thought I would start building it online.

Here is the first half hour. All cut to music, noise, and people talking and dancing from the time. There is no narration, only a few explanatory captions.

But my idea is also to use it to chart one of the great conceptual shifts of our time. It is the story of how, with the rise of individualism, we all stopped defining ourselves by politics and being part of collective groups, and believing in collective ideas.

And instead we started to define ourselves by culture - both popular and high-brow - because music and style and art allowed us to give expression to our individual identities, rather than supressing them in the greater interest of the group.

This one focusses on a few months in 1970 - just before the general election of that year. I have cheated a couple of times with music, and with a few of the bits of film. But not much. It's a bit rough, work in progress. If you can - listen on headphones.

I won't put the parts up chronologically. Next, probably, 1992.

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  • Comment number 1.

    Absolutely brilliant. A great idea for a project. Looking forward to the next 79.

  • Comment number 2.

    Nice one Adam, very interesting.

    I nearly spat my tea out laughing at the Band of Gold caption, brilliant.

  • Comment number 3.

    I forgot how beautiful women used to be.

  • Comment number 4.

    Very moving, and I really don't know what to say, other than I'm going to watch this several times to digest it all. I am very excited about this project.

  • Comment number 5.

    A friend and I were just discussing this very topic over a pizza yesterday. My friend was specifically mentioning a comment he had read where a reader on reddit.com had mentioned that the ridiculous comparison being passed around now a days that Obama is similar to Hitler is not only ludicrous to suggest such a comparison but also because the people making such claims NEVER take into account the small things like the fact that peoples minds just did not conceive the same things we can conceive now due to changes in our surroundings and our culture.


    One of us no doubt (I can't remember who specifically) reminded the other one that this is exactly where Adam Curtis is coming from in all of his work. To see it used as the MAIN focus point in a series that will last 40 hours is just amazing! Thank you Adam Curtis. Again, we owe you one.

  • Comment number 6.

    This reminds me of a film Mrk Cousins and Irvine Welsh did for The New Ten Commandments - have you seen it?

  • Comment number 7.


    You know I must admit I felt exactly the same thing watching this, but wasn't sure about posting it.

    I'm reminded of a lyric that I love -

    "Moving with grace that men despise, and women have learned to lose".

    I'm not sure if that's misogynistic. Whatever way you look at it it's kind of a sad view I think.

  • Comment number 8.

    It's an original idea. I do feel though that for people like me, who are too young to remember these songs and tunes, the film is a collage of images lacking meaning and context. Younger people might find this unengaging. Personally I am fascinated by images of people suspended in an apparent void (the french would call that existentialism). To that extent the film highlights that void in the absence of an over-arching narrative, although this might be an unintended consequence of the lack of context?

    The previous documentary, "It Felt Like A Kiss", was also a collage of images and soundtracks, but strangely I though in that instance that I had my familiar reference points and that a narrative thread ran through the film. For that reason it felt like a very difference experience (a more collective rather than individual experience) than the latest film.

    As a side point, Music is only one of the ways individuals use as an identity flag, though film and audio can only handle music and moving images engagingly.)

  • Comment number 9.


    I object to your project Adam, its a waste of your time. Your time and attention are resources of immediate political relevance. I propose you tackle the following:

    1) WWII narratives. Why not dive right into the controversies - do an Oliver Stone - except that you have the brains to do it well, and probably more accurate.

    2) Ahistorical Modernity. Cold War narratives, vs. what this generation knows. Think of it in the following terms: today, the West speaks of something called the "Islamic world". Only 20 years ago, this was a term we rarely used. What today is called the Islamic world, was largely torn between Socialism and pro-American dictators. If you could explain this to the Present, you might contribtute a great deal. Westerners think that Muslims were basically always backwards, but they don't know about the secular socialist forces, that we eradicated at the root as a matter of foreign policy.

    3) Take the story about Leo Strauss further. Why not go in depth, and bring in Schmidt, and S. Drury, and Rene Braque? Also, many of us would like to know if Strauss was the only "theoretician of the elite" and "philosopher of myth" or if there were others, (there certainly were elitist schools) and how did they impact governance in the West. You might mention Huntington's famous "moderate democracy" ideas, etc.

    4) Consider historical stories that you touched upon in discussing Berneys. SOmeone like Basil Zaharoff, remains a mystery, and yet, by ignoring Bernaye's time, we are ignoring a curious period similar to our own. Plenty of illusions.

    5) Conspiracy theories. Why not touch on their very real origin from within intelligence agencies, and various factionalism within society?

    These are mere suggestions, to counter a potential decision of what many would consider a massive waste of your time.

  • Comment number 10.


    I find your tone arrogant.

    a) I don't think it is your place to dish out injunctions to an artist

    b) most of the themes you suggest are your own niche interests and in any case most have been covered to death (on wwII - see The Living Dead)

    c) I do think the proposed project would potentially stand as a one-off monument breaking new ground

    So let's leave it to those who do the work to decide what they want to do.

  • Comment number 11.

    Usually in archive footage our eyes often focus on the main persons within view. Sometimes the people on the fringe of view show some interesting behaviour. Those participating within the narrative in the foreground, while those outside are relegated as observers are in the background. The cameraman is also one of the observers.

    As observers, we are all essentially masochistic self-doubters, confined to observe others as our own form of self-control or lose of self. We are essentially the conformists by passively accepting the world without actively changing it. But as soon as we lose our status as observer we gain the horror of self-consciousness.

    In those examples of people cathartically screaming out their inner angst and unbinding their own self-control, we find that they're surrounded by observers. Both the screamer and observers (and us) gain catharsis in the act. So long as as there is something to observe, nothing changes. Unless what we are observing is truly horrific, and then our self-control breaks down.

    This is why totalitarian regimes successfully control the masses: by providing them with a narrative and making them observers, without showing them the true horrors of reality; they essentially remain self-less. In any need for occassional catharsis is always through group activities such as dancing, music, rallies or as an audience where lose of control does not lead to self-consciousness.

    Leaders, tyrants, celebrities, are all narcissistic, and thrive off the audience so as to project their self outwards and control them. Therefore narcissists successfully avoid self-consciousness.

    We all enter the safety of the sado-masochistic relationship. Even when brushing their hair in the mirror, the narcisstic happily avoids self-consciousness.

    One sweet moment at 24:00 where the young girl is invited to become the foreground, and to avoid being the centre of attention she immediately distracts from herself, pointing at the cameras that are of no interest at all, and the same applies to the young man soon after.

    Oh dear, we truly are a bunch of masochists caught up in distractions avoiding reality, unable to love ourselves only images of ourselves reflected in others or turn our self-cruelty outwards onto cruelty to others.

    The little boy at 29:50, does not need a narrative and is only conscious of his immediate surroundings. Neither passive observer nor active narcissist.


    Our lives are filled with people who tell us what to do and what not to do. Artists sometimes require the need to search for new narratives and perspectives and this is why Adam's new project is entirely worthwhile. Even if no new narratives are created, he is creating artistic images and sound which we all appreciate.

  • Comment number 12.

    what is that clip at the end where the boy is buying the sweets and walking down the street?

  • Comment number 13.

    This looks like an intriguing project to me, Adam, and clearly, it is a long-cherished ambition of yours to realise it.

    I was reminded, purely circumstantially, of the work of a historical novelist whom I have always admired, Peter Vansittart, poorly known to the majority of British readers, but who always wrote with a tremendous sense of the minutiae of every moment of history which he dealt with - not solely concering himself with surface politics and metanarratives, but interested in all aspects of a time including the folk stories which it told, the domestic practices of those who lived within it, the sense of humour that it generated, the dream narratives and mystical visions, and so on. He crafted some of the most superb historical anthologies I know of (and I am a keen reader of anthologies) on such periods as WWI, telling a story of his own simply through the ingathering of a mass of disparate textual voices, and leaving the reader to construct their own interpretation of the peculiar elements and aspects he had unearthed, and which, somehow, seemed to speak of significant perspectives from/on the time. I was actually thinking just recently that it was a pity Vansittart devoted his attention purely to what many would consider archaic subjects (the French Revolution, the fin de siecle era in the c.19th etc.), and no-one had produced a comparably bold anthology of disparate texts for the post WWII era, bringing us face to face with all the dreams, conceptions, biases and myths of our own time. This series seems like it may promise something along similar lines - and it seems wholly appropriate that, chronicling a period dominated by the power of visual and aural dissemination to inform perspective, the work is, in essence, an 'anthology' using film, rather than text. I am absolutely certain that your eye for the stimulating, surprising or unintentionally apt image will conjure marvels along the way.

    Naturally, to say that any artefact of this nature will lack subjectivity is foolish - and I am sure that, as a whole, the work would revisit many of your own, personal areas of interest - ranging from the manipulation of psychiatric practice to inculcate 'norms' within populations to the curious sense of 'unreality' that living under Cold War brinkmanship appears to have bequeathed to the 21st century world. Presumably, a different director engaged upon such an all-encompassing project would make different selections of material to represent the 'emotional essence' of the years in question - yet, equally surely, the artistry of the piece would lie precisely within that artful selection of materials.

    I am not sure that we can judge the value of the work from a small, experimental sample - for it seems certain that the effect of the whole must be cumulative, giving a sense of development over time. I think it will prove an audacious and remarkable project if it can be brought to full fruition. Whether such an intuitively felt work can also be used to craft a coherent final message is another question - but it will undeniably demonstrate some masterful 'anthologising'.

    At the same time (and though I agree that avishalom's comments come across as hectoring and arrogant), I do see where the concern is coming from. For those who have always primarily viewed your work as a contribution to current political discourse, it may seem as if this lengthy engagement with material that is concerned with developments of 20-30 years past is of no 'contemporary' relevance. I will leave that dispute to the politically inclined. As a historian above all, I have always valued the fact that you are as interested in studying where we are *now* in terms of what we did and thought *then* - and this project seems to me a valuable further contribution to that discourse.

  • Comment number 14.

    Adam Curtis wrote:

    "I have always wanted to make a series of films which would be like an "emotional history" that conveys what it feels like to live through history as an experience rather than a grand story. It would be about the relationship between the tiny fragments and moments of personal experience, and the continual backdrop of big events."

    Sounds like the perfect definition of a 'soap opera', but without the 'professional' acting.

  • Comment number 15.

    Dear Mr Curtis

    I had tears in my eyes with laughter from 14:33, with the reporter being flooded by curious Egyptians. The reporter stiffly struggles to keep to his text, his right hand in his pocket, probably balled in a fist. Fantastic.

    A few points I'd like to make: this project will probably turn out to be an artistically and especially a historically significant undertaking, so I really hope you'll finish it. Though I do wonder if people are able to make sense of it in say sixty years time, without explanations for just about everything ('So was Hugh Heffner married happily ever after or not?' :-)).

    It would be somehow interesting to hear cover versions of songs you use throughout the project. For instance, I know David Bowie's 'the man who sold the world' primarily from Nirvana's cover --because I'm from the Nirvana generation so to say. Everything points to something else or almost the same in the past --which is nicely summarized in the phenomenon of the cover version.

  • Comment number 16.

    This is great film, thank you!

    I have a Dorling-Kindersley encyclopedia of the 20th century presented as a scrap book of short newspaper articles and I find part of the fun is in thinking about the stories you haven't included (Biafra [Roland the Thompson Gunner!], the Beatles breaking up, the Kent State shootings, the first Jumbo jet landing at Heathrow)and wondering whether they could fit within your narrative frame - and perhaps why they haven't been picked.

    Presenting [a] history as an immersive [aesthetic?] experience - at least in this form - I think wonderfully original. It strikes me that you not only have a wonderful archive to draw on but a means of selecting it, altering it and presenting it that hasn't been possible in the past.

    I wish you the best with the project and can't wait to see the next instalment.

    (And quietly I'll hope that one day you might trace a similar story about the interrelationship of culture and technology which allows the style of the film itself to become, even more, part of the critique.)

  • Comment number 17.

    Mr Curtis,

    Please consider adding the cover version of "Wild Horses" by The Sundays, in your 1992 anthology. It's so hauntingly beautiful and emotional.

  • Comment number 18.

    Greetings. I enjoyed what you made. I look forward to seeing more of these in series. While not as arrogant as avishalom - I would *never* presume to tell you what to make or do - I would ask that you look at what such a series means and what it might bring as a form of precontextualisation. You are a few years older than I am, but not much. I was 11 / 12 in 1970. I remember 1968 very well. When Bobby Kennedy and MLK jr were assassinated, I remember my mother that summer moving the laundry onto a table for folding and she was crying - she said "The world has gone mad - all the good people are being murdered." And I remember the tenor of her political sentiments hardening - not along party lines, but more along lines of decency and fairness.

    1970 was also Altamont - the nadir of the Woodstock nation. The hippies of 65 had left the Haight / Ashbury years ago, and the neighbourhood was being taken over by junkies and speed freaks. By the late 70s it was a disaster and it wasn't until the gentrification of the late 80s and 90s did it Disney-fy itself into the shopping mall it is today.

    In some ways, I wonder if this latest work of yours has learned the lessons of your own previous works. The Trap is a hypermediated revisioning of Adorno and Horkheimer's Dialectics of Enlightenment. For them it was VERY clear that the intellectual tools of the 17th and 18th century led directly to auschwitz and hiroshima. The Century of the Self examines Bernays et al and the psychology underneath the mediations of political economy - clearly demonstrating that we might develop choices rationally but we make a decision from those choices irrationally. This is underlined by Rushkoff and his work on "The Merchants of Cool" and "The Persuaders" (both viewable on PBS.ORG)

    So, here with your recent work I am given the position of an emotional tourist to a time when I was an older child and you a young teenager. Impressionable and important times of one's life. But from CotS and the Trap, we have learned to distrust emotional manipulations - we know we're being "Set up"...

    1970 is also when US oil production peaked, as predicted in the 1950s by M King Hubbert. The USA was already importing oil, but after 1970, that import would grow enormously. OPEC was a direct result of this geological fact, as it now became advantageous for the producers to collude against their biggest customer. At this time (or was it 1971?) when Nixon removed the last vestiges of the gold standard, and tied the American dollar to oil. Since then, the volume of dollars sloshing around the world has expanded exponentially, and now with the peaking of oil production, the relationship between the dollar and energy has grown frayed and tenuous. Reports are coming out on nearly a monthly basis of how the militaries of various nations (Germany, USA, UK, China) are concerned and preparing for significant turbulence in the next decade as the production of oil begins to collapse.

    While 1970 is a good year to look at, I think any year is a good year to look at. That said, I do not see it as holographic - one year does not include all years - we are not paradigmatic of anything but what we are now. What your idea for this series provides is a personal vision of the past. With what you have produced for the past decade or so is something vastly deeper, and of such a nature that "personal vision" is left suspect. Not because it is wrong, per se, as much as we can't really know who is doing the talking - is it Eight People Sipping Wine In Kettering? Is it Nash? Is it Marcuse? We are asked to trust your vision (and frankly, I do) yet your vision calls for critical thinking, something that a trust in a personal vision requires some suspension thereof.

    Unlike avishalom, I'm not saying DON'T DO THIS, and I certainly enjoyed the first installment (although I think you could work on the pacing a bit - it's a bit draggy in the middle), but I do think that this project really needs to be tighter to the theory you opined, and I quote:

    "But my idea is also to use it to chart one of the great conceptual shifts of our time. It is the story of how, with the rise of individualism, we all stopped defining ourselves by politics and being part of collective groups, and believing in collective ideas.

    And instead we started to define ourselves by culture - both popular and high-brow - because music and style and art allowed us to give expression to our individual identities, rather than supressing them in the greater interest of the group."

    I see THIS as vastly more important than the emotional history (tourism, imho) idea when you said,

    "I have always wanted to make a series of films which would be like an "emotional history" that conveys what it feels like to live through history as an experience rather than a grand story. "

    Perhaps the emotional history idea is one you can run with on your blog, but will it be a distraction? The shift in self definition is an idea you explained clearly in Century of the Self. From CotS, the Trap was the logical follow up. What to follow it with is a big question, one I have been wondering ever since you finished the Trap. I think this emotional history series is an interesting angle, but I am afraid it may be a time consuming fiddling while Rome burns. Yes, we should know the themes of these years past - we need to know our past so we can understand our present and thus have some agency over our future. What I wonder is, "is this really the best vehicle for that?"

    I'm a *major fan* of your work, and I use excerpts of it in my classrooms as I can. That CotS, PoN, and the Trap are not really available on DVD is yet another sign of how the complexity of our civilisation is working against its own survival. I sincerely wish you all the best luck in your endeavours.

  • Comment number 19.

    Just re-watching Pandora's Box. Is not political history a strawman version of science? Indeed, rather than reason, politics seems to be based on fear. No surprise then if people now have a political identity, and while powerless, they show paranoia.

    But back to science, it can still save us. But not the strawman versions created by politicians and intellectuals.

  • Comment number 20.

    Yah - arrogance and artistic types, little people can tell me all about it. Only a perfectly fragile ego would take my tone to heart. Anyone genuine will treat it as mere opinion, no different from Adam's work.

    Dear Adam part 2,

    Another thing that bothers me, is you using this BBC blog format, where everything is tightly censored. You feel no irony, doing your deconstructivism on a blog which exercises censorship on the level of Soviet Authorities? Too bad for the BBC I suppose. Just look at ForeignPolicy.com, they have unrestricted comment policies, and it's been working wonders for them. Consider something else Adam, a rather brutal oversight: Unless you put your work into a documentary film format, we will never be able to retain it. This blog here at the BBC, will forever lock in the footage. At most we can copy and paste text. But not even a website downloader will capture the films. Your Afghanistan series will be lost to us, if you don't make it a film. And I beseech you to make it a film!

    That aside. I'd love to provide a few links to Tukrmenistan. But I guess that can't be done - with BBC censorship. So verbally: Youtube has a nice Bouygues Turkmen Clip. No shame eh? Then if you go to the ShadowOfTheHolyBook website, you can find a directory where a document exists for each developed country's relationship with the comatose dictatoriship. Three, the Ukrainian forum of the Skyscraper forums domains. There you will find all the wonders of Ashkhabad. Oh, and most British firms seem to be vastly more careful than Bouygues in advertising their services to Good Ol Berdy - hence you can see that on B. page they get into details on various projects.

    I want to comment on your Afghanistan series. Again, must be in documentary format or will be forever lost. You overlooked the deliberately obscured role US dominated Iran, that of the Germans, and the Chinese, but I suppose you are not working exhaustively. When I add your Yemen post - I feel like Syria, Egypt, and Iraq all merited attention.

    Iran. Adam! There are thousands of immigrants from the Shah's regime still among us. Please interview them while they are here. Their story has NEVER GOTTEN OUT. Everyone reading you, is clueless on the intrigues there, and boy, they were massive.

    I wonder what you could do on Saudi Arabia. Especially after A's documentary. I am certain there is footage out there -that only your genius can locate.

    The Maghreb, and French-US foreign policy tandem, aer fascinating. I am sure you've heard of the admissions in French courts by Moroccan DST, and the Algerians, has never seen these shores.

    Another thing comes to mind - South Africa. I don't suppose you'd like to tackle before/after Aparatheid. Or is that too to the right of your political compass? All the promises made, all the support given by Iran, Marc Rich, etc...and Slavko, good old Slavko.

    Which reminds me, why not do something on the likes of Marc Rich. You know, Ammann wrote a hagiography of him recently, and it is grossly at odds with Copetas. According to the sycophant Rich was nothing less than a Mossad super-spy, on the Department of State's valued asset list, so that the FBI was being deliberately lead by the nose by DOS. That's one hell of a story. Marc Rich can serve, as you used Freud, to tell the story of a wider epoch, and time. Ammann claims Rich invented the spot market as such, and particularly the oil market. Glencore/Xstrata remains till this day, impressively and furtively dominant in global resources markets. It's the Rich gang.

    And I'll end with another suggestion (at Adam, not the nitpickers here looking to bully). Anglo-American foreign policy and the GCC. Have you ever noticed that half of what is owned by GCC firms, in actually is Western money that is recycling ownership?

    Oh, I thought that was the biggest secret out there? Well its true, and P&O isn't really owned by Arabs. But that's another story of our corrupt world.

  • Comment number 21.

    The "little people"? *rolls eyes at previous comment*

    Anyway, good stuff Adam. Are you going to be making an hour of footage for each year? It seems to be the most sensible way to cut up the forty hours you've promised. Also, this is a huge amount of work, does this mean won't see any TV series from you in the near future? That would be a shame.

  • Comment number 22.

    @ avishalom

    ive agreed not to attack anyone here so ill refrain.

    Adam, film rocks. words, text are all good, but your magic with the oul moving images.

    good stuff keep it up.

  • Comment number 23.

    How many 'little people' make a 'big people'?

    Pareto reckoned it was about 4:1. Maybe Adam Curtis could use the formula of 4 little people snippets verses 1 big people film snippet.

  • Comment number 24.

    Adam, very much like what you've shown so far.

    There is a risk, that I'm sure you're aware of, that this could end up becoming a deluxe version of what was an excellent BBC series The Rock 'n' Roll Years. For those those who aren't familier the format was to cover a single years music and news event in each 1/2hr program and covered the years from 1956-1989


  • Comment number 25.

    Absolute genius. As ever. I'm not sure what it says to me, but - in its uniquely Curtisonian way, it packs so much about 1970 - politics, culture, music, humanity - into 30 minutes and works on so many levels. The mix of music and image is sublime. As you concede, musically you cheat here and there but, of the tracks I knew most seemed to be from 1970. Stunning. And I love the idea of c40 hours of similar footage to explain "the rise of individualism" and how we all stopped defining ourselves by politics and being part of collective groups, and believing in collective ideas.

  • Comment number 26.

    I loved this film.

    I disagree with tristan111 that younger people might find this un-engaging. I was born in 1977 and found the film fascinating and beautiful. Perhaps it was seeing the beginning of a decade that I only caught the end of.

    Tonight I finished watching Adam’s series ‘The Century of Self’ which was one of the most enlightening pieces of documentary work I have ever seen. The final episode, which focuses on the 80’s and 90’s made me aware of what an extraordinary and somewhat frightening cultural era that I’ve grown up in. It left me thinking ‘What was Britain really like before?’ Coincidentally, I then went on to this blog site and found this film.

    I loved the absence of a single narrative, the mixture of the mundane and the iconic, the familiar and the mysterious. I will certainly be back for more. Thank you Adam.

  • Comment number 27.

    Bloody marvellous Adam - a special kind of journalism maybe; I could watch 40 hours of it, and for what its worth I have introduced your work to my teenage children and they love it (especially in this blog form) and so do many of their friends...some of these comments are getting rather complex - I think you take that to which you have access and use it to speak to many many people:

    nec minus ergo ante haec quam ti cecidere, cadentque..

  • Comment number 28.

    Adam - really like this but, much as I do like it, I have to agree with Nigeyb's comment that unless it's handled carefully this could all just turn into a nostalgia fest along the lines of the Rock 'n Roll years.

    Still like it though. Class footage.

  • Comment number 29.

    By the way, and I apologise if this is covered elsewhere, I am intrigued, that from getting slots on BBC2/4 Adam, you appear to be mainly pumping stuff out on this BBC blog. I wonder if this is because the BBC doesn't want to upset the new Government - and the last one - with your provocative docs, or whether it's your choice. You also now seem to be less polemical and pursuing a less coherent - but equally interesting - approach. If you feel able and willing to comment, I'd be very interested to know. Thanks.

  • Comment number 30.

    In 2007 Mr Curtis spoke of his plans to make this kind of project:


    If he has kept to his intentions and thinking, this project is going to be one to savour.

    I loved the cringing woman in the first clip(Zimbabwe?) and the Bunnygirls almost getting bowled over by the aeroplane wing.

    Although, with the preponderance of red clothing, I was half expecting to see an axe-wielding, old woman jump out.

    It will be interesting to watch the diminishing use of red to fit the project title.

    @egbert. Hi Egbert. I read the tv studio scene differently. I read that scene as the end of the old and the beginning of the new. The studio was equipped with unmanned, automatic cameras and all the participants were unsure of what to make of it. I thought it also telling that the woman was asked to sit in the "hotseat" first. I smelled a lot of oestrogen throughout this first part.

    Enjoyed the guy asking if the set scenery could turn. No, mate, it's the big thing outside called "The World" that's turning!

    I doubt there is a right way or a wrong way to read this project, given what Mr Curtis says in the interview I linked to.

  • Comment number 31.

    Yeah I really enjoyed the bit at the beginning. The shock of the visitors at the gunfire, and in contrast how the militants are completely unperturbed by it, the guy is saying it sounds like a guitar and laughing.

    I also like the presentation of Hugh Hefner and his model girlfriend. I like how cold and reticent he seems when he speaks about her, again very funny.

    I suppose it's similar kind of humour, how people's reactions to the same situation contrast.

    With regard to some of the other posts......Mmm. I'm trying to work out what bothers me and it's not easy to define. Some of these posts don't really seem to be reactions to the blog as much as opportunities for people to express some of the items on their own agenda.

    The question of whether people who didn't experience these events will 'get it' is interesting. I'm with Heather, I was born in 79, and I'm sure many others wouldn't been around to see these events first hand and I assume this will change the experience of the film. Strangely I still feel a kind of nostalgia for this time. But I think that may be a the difference between this and the Rock 'n' Roll Years - I think that was heavily based in nostalgia, a 'you had to be there' feeling.

    It seems to me that this type of project could perhaps be more important to people who weren't there than those who were. As someone has mentioned it can show that Britain was once a different place. But rather than just demonstrate or explain this, the idea is that we can experience the time in a similar way to how people who lived then experienced it, and therein actually understand it. It might teach us something about the events themselves, how they relate to each other, or maybe reveal the way that we connect and make sense of the things that happen around us. I wonder if actually living through these periods fractures the continuity in some way, and you can compress the experience by removing, or even choosing to present those in-between moments.

    It Felt Like A Kiss does that in some ways for sure, but it's likely to have more immediate clarity - the narratives within that piece have to be resolved more quickly because it's only one hour long and it has a theme of sorts that images and music will revolve around. I'll be really interested to see how using this longer format will help to show narratives as they evolve over a longer period, and replicate that actual experience. Usually it's the other way round; we stand back and look at the past and analyse it in terms of key events, all with the benefit of hindsight. But at the time we had no idea at all what would become significant.

    I think inevitably it will be a grand narrative in some way - I don't think that can be avoided; the captions instructs point of significance that will then have subsequent associations, and although Adam's presenting the film for each year out of chronology I don't think will completely disrupt the viewer in that way. It'll just be a non-linear and complex story, but I suppose you could argue that's what real life is like.

  • Comment number 32.

    @ Derek

    Thanks for those links. I'm glad to see that Adam is still optimistic. I also think that the old media and politics has failed, but Adam like many others are embracing the internet as more a dialogue rather than a monologue. I still want to hear what Adam has to say, because what he has to say still enriches my world view. We are his fans precisely because he has enriched us.

  • Comment number 33.

    Very interesting, but I agree with others that more captions are needed because half the population were not born or were too young to know what these events were about. The history is lost without an explanation.

    Excellent project. Best of luck.

  • Comment number 34.

    Very interesting, some nice clips. Would have more to say about individual parts, but I'm still thinking about the shot of the kid leaving the shop near the end, lovely.

  • Comment number 35.

    @ GaryFromPlanetEarth

    I think the unguided nature of the images works to free them of context, so that you can see what is happening without focusing on the parts that are retained for the future, or are judged successful and so worthy of focus. This acts to remind the viewer (this viewer, anyway) that the past is a different place from the present, mediated in different ways, and that our future was not known then, but was being gestured towards by everyone; it should remind the viewer that that is what is happening now, as well, and that complete knowledge is impossible.

    Authority has been removed as far as is possible from the vocal narrative, leaving the picture narrative to work its charms on the feelings; I like this, and though I did not understand, could not place, it all with knowledge, I enjoyed simply viewing and feeling.

    There was some great editing and confluence of music and footage, by the by.

  • Comment number 36.

    Just coming on here to post an article link from the New Yorker which is tangentially related to the stuff Adam always talks about:


  • Comment number 37.

    What a great idea, and a wonderful collection of footage. I particularly enjoyed the hushed reverence of the visitors to the news studio. Also, the 15 year old Nigel's unflustered perspective on his plane's hijacking was a joy.

  • Comment number 38.

    @Juan. Thanks for the link. It was an enjoyable and thought-provoking article. The bravery of the four men is humbling. And even more so because they were terrified. But they kept on.

    On Harold Wilson and the use of the pipe for his public face - I remember a programme(about politicians and spin) on BBC 4 towards the start of this year which said his advisors made him use the pipe. They said his hand gestures ( a claw shape was mentioned) came across as aggressive on tv. The pipe occupied his hands while he spoke. I have looked for the programme to reference here but cant find any trace. Can anyone remember it?

    Hugh Hefner's featured love-interest was one Barbara (Barbi) Benton.


    It would appear she lasted until 1976.

    She then married a house builder/developer(1979). In 2006 he was jailed for 15 months for tax fraud. She once recorded a song called, "Aint That Just The Way."

    @The Art Teacher. The last time I saw someone as underwhelmed by love as Hugh Hefner in the clip was HRH Prince Charles when he became engaged to Di Spencer.

  • Comment number 39.

    fantastic. we need someone to do this with american archival footage. who was the small child walking down the street at the end?

  • Comment number 40.

    I watched it a second time, more carefully, and I'm beginning to get some of the themes and references. It really is about identities, especially public identity. Very clever stuff. I'm absolutely hooked! I can't wait for your next instalment!

  • Comment number 41.

    really interesting project Adam thank you. I was getting a bit lost in some of the stories - couldn't quite remember, it would be excellent if there was some way to make the video interactive to get the back story on some of the footage that sparked interest or confusion. In this way the viewer could get more information but the flow of the piece was not disrupted for others.

  • Comment number 42.

    I, too, have now watched the first part over a few times. I think it's interesting that various viewers have started to derive various themes from the piece, and, as Adam himself stated in the preamble, the overall intention is to trace 'how, with the rise of individualism, we all stopped defining ourselves by politics and being part of collective groups, and believing in collective ideas'. So, that there is a central structuring theme that Adam is developing and that will become discernable over the course of time is evident.

    On the other hand, I think looking too closely for any overly specific set of ideas being addressed within the footage is to miss the point of it; it is meant to be a form of tone poem (perhaps Adam referecing Gabriele d'Annunzio in a recent post was not entirely fortuitous!), a collage of soundscape, picture and statement that conjures up an overall emotional effect, and allows the viewer to address whatever they can personally sense pulsing beneath the surface of the imagery reproduced.

    Certainly, anyone who has followed Adam's work closely, particularly the most recent ideas he has been developing within the context of this blog, will recognise that certain aspects of his material have been selected with an eye to illustrating recurrent themes that define his work: the issue of personal identity, the problem of the mass vs. the individual, the cultural relationship between the West and 'the rest', the animal nature of our humanity, late 20th century obsession with pop culture and celebrity, the way in which the spread of media and information accessibility has transformed our perceptions of ourselves, the overweeing power of the state as channelled through covert espionage initiatives, economic manipulations of markets, and advertising etc. etc. All of these themes recur with frequency in Adam's work generally (including 'Pandora's Box', 'Century of the Self' etc.) and they have been especially prominent on the blog of late, from 'It Felt Like a Kiss' through 'City Number One' to 'How Much do you Know?' etc. etc.

    Adam's selection of 'relevant' material is, as I said in my last post, a purely subjective selection, replete with aspects that particularly fascinate him, tell the story he wishes to tell, and/or seem relevant in his perception of developments - and so, we are provided with footage of encounter groups, playboy bunnies, Enoch Powell being heckled, Palestianian plane hijackings, and heroin overdoses - whilst other directors might have chosen entirely different imagery in order to tell 'the' story of '1970' - but it is within that judicious selection of material that Adam's actual art lies. It *is* a subjective interpretation of an era - but it is not meant to be understood as anything other than that. The reason it *won't* actually become a sort of pseuds version of 'The Rock and Roll Years' is because that programme was, as an earlier poster noted, rooted in pure nostalgia - which means that it deliberately attempted to isolate whatever would be conventionally considered most representative of any given era and reproduce it in order to allow viewers immediate recognition. And this could frequently bear very little actual meaning for anybody alive at the time, and who remembered the period - did everyone universally listen to the Beatles in 1964, say, or did every student go on an anti Vietnam rally in '68? In point of fact, most of these notions of 'what happened then' are just persistent myths. Adam appears to be attempting something considerably more surprising and subversive (perhaps intended to subvert that format) - which is to try and emphasise the unfamiliarity of the period, recover aspects of the time which we have all forgotten about or erased from the narrative, and which can frequently be seen, in retrospect, to be pointing towards unpredictable developments in the future. For this reason, although I appreciate why some viewers are asking for more explanation of Adam's themes, it seems to me in keeping with his principle that all of this material is *meant* to seem disorienting to the viewer, whether or not the individual was alive at the time or not - even for those who lived in 1970, Adam may well be intending these images to show a side of existence they never became wholly aware of *at the time*. Equally, and on a practical note, Adam tends to caption whenever a selection of film relates to either the activities of someone famous, or to a newsworthy event of the era. Much of the footage is, however, of ordinary people of the time, presumably taken from archived documentary material, and there is no meaningful captioning that could be applied, no explanation that might be given. Who are those young people debating the merits of advertising? Who is that middle aged woman who is so proud of her wig? Who is that little boy walking away from the shop? They are all somebody - and it might be nice to think that, if their identities *are* known, Adam could acknowledge them somewhere - but would it help a better understanding of the era to know exactly who these people are, or what the context is for the scene(s) in which they find themselves? They are, rather, representative of the great mass of people who do not attain to the notoriety of a Pol Pot or an Elvis Presley, whose only (brief) moment of 'fame' may have been featuring in the very documentary from which Adam derives the footage, but who, nonetheless, speak to us about the types of concerns, dreams, foibles, and beliefs that existed for someone at some time, and whose stories are so conspicuously absent from material like 'The Rock and Roll Years' that would have you believe *everyone* in 1970's Britain could be defined by factors a,b,c.

    On a final (personal) point, I was interested to see that not all of the footage necessarily limited itself to a British perspective - there was some American material, and a number of references to wider global developments. This is suggestive in itself, although I appreciate that because the sources being worked from are taken from the BBC the bias is most likely to be towards British circumstances, but a more global perspective might be welcome. Perhaps one aspect of the film is to suggest that this is the lens through which the British of the time would have refracted their view of the world; with a primary emphasis on domestic issues and reference points, but with a sense of wider awareness of the outside world mediated through the BBC. It may be the case that, as years wear on, and the BBC increases its remit to craft stories about non British subject matter, the proportion of British to global footage alters accordingly - and this may, in itself, tell a significant story about how British perspectives have altered over the last half century.

  • Comment number 43.

    @Leeravitz - I think that's an excellent analysis and really enjoyed the post.

    Just been thinking about this and I want to make some completely underdeveloped points

    - Did the rise of individualism occur later in the UK, or become more noticeable from '70 onwards, compared to the US? The period covered in Kiss is earlier, and I personally think that is similarly concerned with this cultural shift. If I understand correctly, although I never saw the whole project in Manchester, it's pointedly refers to individualism and it's consequences.

    - We talk a lot about the 'message' on here. Now frequently this isn't explicit, we've discussed a lot of social theory and philosophy that we think links in. But what makes this stuff successful and alluring in the first instance is not purely theoretical. I think the work shows the application, it shows what these ideas and interpretations are like in the world. I think it turns, what can be turgid, theory into narratives firstly. I think the 'medium' is vital and I would love to close study not just all the references, the hidden meanings, but also what's happening aesthetically, because I think it's extremely important, especially music because it's inherently not easy to explain how it works, it's not figurative. I guess what I'm saying is when you tell someone something you don't simply display it, there's rhetoric and there's style, and that has always been important as part of human culture I think, how's information is exchanged. And in the current culture I think this might be particularly important; if we agree that things have become more passive and banal it becomes much more important, and not superficial at all, to reinvigorate the experiences we get through different media.

    I hope that makes sense.

  • Comment number 44.

    I've re-watched nearly of the documentaries made by Adam Curtis over the last week, and I'm most fascinated by Part 3 of The Trap or We Will Force You To Be Free, which is a masterpiece.

    "If we ever want to escape from this limited worldview, we will have to re-discover the progressive positive ideas of freedom."--Adam Curtis

    And what is this solution? I think we need to go back and re-discover natural rights. Natural rights are what kicked off all the revolutions around Europe, but are the very ideas which lead to the positive and progressive ideas of freedom.


    I enjoyed reading your analysis too. I hope to hear more perspectives generated by Mr Curtis's experiment.

  • Comment number 45.

    I've come across a piece of writing from 1978 by Glubb Pasha on "The Fate Of Empires" throughout history:


    As the nation declines in power and wealth, a universal pessimism gradually pervades the people, and itself hastens the decline. There is nothing succeeds like success, and, in the Ages of Conquest and Commerce, the nation was carried triumphantly onwards on the wave of its own self-confidence. Republican Rome was repeatedly on the verge of extinction—in 390 B.C. when the Gauls sacked the city and in 216 B.C. after the Battle of Cannae. But no disasters could shake the resolution of the early Romans. Yet, in the later stages of Roman decline, the whole empire was deeply pessimistic, thereby sapping its own resolution. Frivolity is the frequent companion of pessimism. Let us eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die. The resemblance between various declining nations in this respect is truly surprising. The Roman mob, we have seen, demanded free meals and public games. Gladiatorial shows, chariot races and athletic events were their passion. In the Byzantine Empire the rivalries of the Greens and the Blues in the hippodrome attained the importance of a major crisis.

    Judging by the time and space allotted to them in the Press and television, football and baseball are the activities which today chiefly interest the public in Britain and the United States respectively. The heroes of declining nations are always the same—the athlete, the singer or the actor. The word "celebrity" today is used to designate a comedian or a footballer, not a statesman, a general, or a literary genius."

    "The inadequacy of intellect

    Perhaps the most dangerous byproduct of the Age of Intellect is the unconscious growth of the idea that the human brain can solve the problems of the world. Even on the low level of practical affairs this is patently untrue. Any small human activity, the local bowls club or the ladies' luncheon club, requires for its survival a measure of self-sacrifice and service on the part of the members. In a wider national sphere, the survival of the nation depends basically on the loyalty and self-sacrifice of the citizens. The impression that the situation can be saved by mental cleverness, without unselfishness or human self-dedication, can only lead to collapse.

    Thus we see that the cultivation of the human intellect seems to be a magnificent ideal, but only on condition that it does not weaken unselfishness and human dedication to service. Yet this, judging by historical precedent, seems to be exactly what it does do. Perhaps it is not the intellectualism which destroys the spirit of self-sacrifice—the least we can say is that the two, intellectualism and the loss of a sense of duty, appear simultaneously in the life-story of the nation."



    (I came across it on this blog:


    I'm very interested in what everyone makes of it. (Most importantly, for myself, does this viewpoint from history have any credibility?)

    If Mr Pasha is correct, then it's a playful idea that there might have been a "Roman" Adam Curtis!

  • Comment number 46.


    Slavery has had a long history in building empires. The idea of unselfishness, duty, self-sacrifice seem at odds with history. Historically, we had the class of rulers and the class of surfs or peasants. Do you think the rulers were at all serving the peasants? Do you think rulers only grew rich so as to serve slaves?

    This is only a great lie or romantic ideal given to the political classes. The ideals of being a gentleman, or of chivalry all grow from the romance stories that grew out of the the ruling classes realising the fact that they were barbaric and cruel.

    The modern ideas of liberalism means that we do away with this system of rulers and surfs, but this is also a bit of a myth or fiction. Inequality persists because so long as we have a free market or badly regulated corrupt market, the few will exploit the many.

    Human nature is human nature. Some are more naturally inclined to rule while others are more inclined to serve. Ordinary people really crave stability and security and not freedom. The other kind of freedom that isn't really talked about is the freedom to own things (or people) which is the kind of freedom the ruling classes enjoy. But in enjoying that kind of freedom, there must be an underclass. So the rulers and the surfs have different perspectives on freedom.

  • Comment number 47.

    Incredibly alarming le Bon 'Crowd' moment when, at 12:00, a man confronts Enoch Powell and the audience start chanting 'Negro'.

  • Comment number 48.


    Hi Egbert. Nice to hear from you again.

    I don't think history is at odds with the notions of duty and selflessness to "the Empire." Slaves are slaves because they do not belong to the Empire. In an empire's eyes they are "non-people." Duty and selflessness applies, and is reserved, only to those who "belong."

    Do you think the rulers were at all serving the peasants? - I don't but they would say they were. They would have said they were working for the common good. And maybe even saying that they were providing ordinary serfdom with the stability and security which is their only cravings. ;-) Sorry I couldn't resist that one.

    I put the quotes up because they seemed to me to have some relevance to The Strange Death of Political England. (I wasn't trying to suggest I am in favour of returning to the days of the British Raj. I put the link to the UK Commentators blog because I wanted to show where I found the link to the work of Mr Pasha. They highlighted other quotes which I don't particularily agree with.)

    All the best


  • Comment number 49.

    Good posts DerekMc,

    I too think it's pertinent to this thread. For empires, as for any 'natural' system that spontaneously evolves; there are trends borne of thermodynamics. And if these trends are universal, so they must be common and repeatable.

    A system progresses by consuming; and as it becomes more sated, it needs to emit the effluence of exhaust. The latter is what we can recognize as the essential entropy of the process; the decline of our collective sanitary purity. Our ancestors brought home the bacon; cooked and ate the feast; and we are left with the washing up, and the toilet duties... "Trousers down Granny."

  • Comment number 50.

    I found strong themes of control in this, it was really interesting, looking forward to more. Love the clip near the end of the little boy walking down the street. Will you be posting a list of the songs used?

  • Comment number 51.

    David Cameron or Nick Clegg would have been about the same age as that little boy. Think about that!

  • Comment number 52.


    They would have sent their valet down to the shop.

  • Comment number 53.

    This has made history come alive in a distinct almost surreal way. The best way I can think of this is that Mr. Curtis has created a way for us to experience those times as they happened. It is the History of Now. Great work and as always fascinating.

  • Comment number 54.

    I'd just like to add to this @misterstudebaker's demand for a little more theory. I'm not looking for these documentaries to drift into some purely academic exercise - I've always found the pleasure in Curtis' documentaries to be their humour and entertainment.

    But I am a little - what? - worried, I suppose - about the films turning into collage with captions. In other documentaries the 'hidden' history of ideas was placed on display through contemporary and modern interviews with players, and 'discussed' (sort of) with some of the effects it had. You could say the word 'narrative' a few times and perhaps even 'praxis', but I won't. You end up with everything being a 'narrative' and so the word has no methodological value.

    I suppose that's what I'm looking for: a little bit of rigour - no, not in a bad way. In this sort of program it is, I feel, of paramount importance to 'show your working' as mathematics teachers would have it. Not because it will tell me if it's 'right' or not, but rather because the methodology is where I get to see why this story is being told.

    That said: many are commenting here on the artist's inviolability. Well, I've never considered these works to be 'art', just as I consider, say, Freud not to be art; he's got a nice turn of phrase but that's not why I bought the ticket. I've always taken Curtis to be doing journalism in the first case, and as he is investigating the history of ideas for the most part that does inevitably involve some engagement with those same ideas - the theories are the major characters in the narrative (there's that word again) and how they change through the breaks in history. For all that, I'd not presume to tell him what to work on.

    But perhaps this is a new turn for Curtis, producing an 'emotional history' in sounds and images. A bit like 'The Rock & Roll Years' used to be on BBC 2 (sorry, that was a low blow). Things happening, put into a particular order and we draw our own opinions on them and guess at the meaning of it all. Well, so be it - it'll be great and I'm sure I'll enjoy it. But it will not be the exciting genealogy of 20th century political economy I have previously enjoyed.

    PS - T. S. Eliot once said that he didn't know what he thought until he heard what he said (I paraphrase). I've just realised that I regard Adam Curtis' previous work (and possibly this one too) is a little bit Foucauldian. Throw away remark. Carry on.

  • Comment number 55.

    I think politicians are trying to establish their authority and power again. There seems to be some disturbing trends in Europe, mostly to do with the attempts to accomnodate Islam from the large immigrant populations.

    The idea of religious hate speech in Britain is now law, so basically you can be put in prison for saying something offensive. These hate laws seem to be introduced all over Europe. That right-winger Geert Wilders is on trial in Amsterdam for hate speech. Of course, I disagree with most of Wilders and his political ambitions, but that doesn't mean he should be censored and our freedom of speech tossed away.

    Then there are these mysterious 'social rights' that are making their way into the political debate. There are supposedly now three types of 'rights' as suggested by professor Karel Vasak. This all sounds rather bogus and phoney to me. Perhaps material for Adam Curtis to analyse in future.

  • Comment number 56.

    Hi Adam

    Please ignore the pompous t**ts telling you the project is a bad idea- they have been spending too much time contemplating their own egos :)

    Its a fantastic idea. The film was great and really liked the blunt captions- it works really well- although would love to hear you narrate with interviews from modern sources.

    What will your next project be in the near future- is there one?

  • Comment number 57.

    You get the sense that all of this is happening at the same moment. It brings you toward being able to sense the idea that the universe is a single infinite thought. That in itself is an impressive achievement for a filmmaker. Thanks Mr. Curtis!

  • Comment number 58.

    @ ladyelayne - That's an interesting idea. It's an amazing coincidence to me as I was checking out a reference to exactly that idea earlier this week.

    I'm not sure if it means anything, but there's a reference to a book on this blog, but, how can I put it, it's referred to differently from the other direct references made to certain books. I thinking of the It Felt Like A Kiss references.

    Also in the Gnomes of Zurich post, a person is mentioned in the context of the video, but it's also explained that he was notable for a particular 'experiment' he was part of. When I looked into this he talks about a sense of 'timelessness'.

    I wonder if I'm making the connection myself or it's intentional. But either way it's an incredible coincidence as I only started looking into this area a few days ago. I'll admit I don't quite know what to make of it.

  • Comment number 59.

    And, as fate would have it, tomorrow, Sunday, 10th of October, BBC Parliament are re-running the BBC's election night coverage for the 1970 Election.


  • Comment number 60.

    It seems our individual identities depend very much on our freedom, and therefore we feel a crisis of identity because the state is also in an identity crisis, threatening our freedoms.

    Our individual identity may very well advance to even greater sophistication, but not without freedom. Freedom is therefore fundamental to our identity.

    When creating our own individuality, probably at the adolescent stage, we decide on how to think, through politics, how to feel, through popular culture and music, and what to do economically through the subjects we study. We then start developing our private identities by further thinking, feeling and doing things alone.

    I think Mr Curtis want to explore the development of one of these major parts of our identity, how we feel about ourselves through his medium and art. Does it further refine our own individuality by becoming conscious of the development of popular culture and music? Yes it does. Because we can begin to examine whether there is a rational narrative in our memories about how we felt at different stages in our life.

    Different generations seem to develop how they feel through the adolescent stage, and this then becomes part of their private individuality. If Adam Curtis was an adolescent in the 70s, then the 70s could have formed how Mr Curtis felt about the world.

    So we're very much seeing how Mr Curtis and anyone of his generation feel about the world, and how they think about what made them feel about the world.

    Does this lead to a catharsis about how they feel? Learning an historic and coherent narrative about the 70s from which their feelings can make sense of the world and therefore sense of their self?

    I can't know that, because I was an adolescent during the 80s, and that era is what developed how I 'felt about the world'. But I think I understand that Adam is creating a catharsis for himself and perhaps for his generation, and if he continues through the 80s, for myself and my generation.

    This catharsis may be a kind of mass therapy from which we can resolve the crisis in our society and state, by solving our own crisis which prevents us from actively securing our freedoms again.

  • Comment number 61.

    Slight correction: I was an adolescent during the late 70s.

  • Comment number 62.

    Adam Curtis, since day one I've known that you were an artist and a visionary, and this new concept is truly brilliant in my book. If there is any justice in this world, in 100 years folks will point to this work as the high water mark of virtuosic storytelling. Truly "history writ with lightning"

  • Comment number 63.

    Some comments have been very quick to dismiss emotion as being an important part of our history. But theory, politics and science cannot be viewed in isolation, emotion plays a part in what happens, what is chosen and who wins.

    It is a part of history that is much less looked at.

    In an image dominated world, driven by a marketing attitude, emotion and ideology most often trump intellectual debate.

    This film project will be a fascinating observation, very relevant to how and why certain decisions are being taken now on reforming our economy.

  • Comment number 64.

    'Emotional history' and 'Rise of Individualism'??! What tosh! What long-haired, out of work, unwashed, new-age babbling idiot's going to be interested in the history and shaping of our world today? It's already been done on the 'Rock and Blow' years, no idea why anybody would want to see MORE history?

    I watched it all the way through, twice, and it's just some collage of moving images, a soundtrack, some dialogue, humour and political events to help people "feel" and "touch" an era. 'Touchy-feely', 'entertaining' and 'educational' television will not interest anyone ... never has, never will do.

    And for those who say this will preserve how the times 'felt' by those still able to remember them, rather than a mish-mash of news items and documentaries, my reply would be a loud raspberry followed by a caustic look of REVULSION.


  • Comment number 65.


    "What long-haired, out of work, unwashed, new-age babbling idiot's going to be interested in the history and shaping of our world today?"

    You answered your own question, you watched through twice :-)

  • Comment number 66.

    Egbert, if the topic was different the question I asked 'could' have been "Which Storm Trooper is going to want to watch a film about how the family of Princess Leia managed to get on board the last rocket-ship from Alderaan?" or "What kind of cat wants their food to taste of toothpaste?"

    - Does my tongue actually have to go through my cheek ?

    I thought the sentence 'Touchy-feely', 'entertaining' and 'educational' television will not interest anyone ... never has, never will do." was going a bit too far.

    Was I mistook!?

  • Comment number 67.

    Can anyone tell me the title and artist of the reggae song that plays in this video? It has lyrics about opening the doors of heaven.

    It's a gorgeous song, I'd love to know who it is.

  • Comment number 68.

    A beautiful and brilliant idea Mr. Curtis, I know what you are trying to achieve, what you are trying to capture, and a very difficult thing it is. Please continue.

  • Comment number 69.

    "And instead we started to define ourselves by culture - both popular and high-brow - because music and style and art allowed us to give expression to our individual identities, rather than suppressing them in the greater interest of the group."

    But hasn't that, in turn, created groups that do, in fact, suppress individual identities? For example, the type of music you like, and clothing you wear, can categorise you as belonging to a particular group e.g. being a goth, a metalhead, a punk etc., and in order to fit into that particular group, the individual adopts the norms, interests, and behaviours of that particular group? The individual suppresses those elements of themselves that do not conform, lest they attract ridicule from their peers.

    IMO, defining ourselves by culture is something that's arisen from the capitalist age, and the idea of this being driven by individualism is an illusion created by advertising and marketing.

  • Comment number 70.

    I found this film informative and entertaining. I viewed it as a kind of political video art. It was by turns funny and tragic, informative and mystifying. Thank you for posting this quality work . I look forward to future posts.

    Thank you

  • Comment number 71.

    51, I was also about the same age as the little boy walking along the (run down?) street in 1970, not that I'm a leader of a political party now!
    For all that, it does resonate, stuff that is new to me, like the case of the kidnapping, well I'm on line so I'll go and find out.

    Very enjoyable, thought provoking stuff, a bit naughty having 'Band Of Gold' playing when Ted Heath appears, could have been worse - or maybe nearer the truth - had any songs existing from the era with the word 'cottage' in them been playing, maybe?

    Harold Wilson's pipe was due to that fact he feared looking like a Mafia Don with his cigars - and those raincoats - the maker of which Wilson had corrupt dealings with.

  • Comment number 72.

    Born 1981; a big fan of Adam Curtis but I'm afraid this left me a bit cold; the curious thing about the later naughties is how the internet brought us so much into contact with retro culture, or perhaps a form of retro culture. I seem to remember reading that Tom Jones outsold The Beatles in the day so who knows what it was really like? Will those of my generation admit that The Spice Girls and Robbie Williams were chart-topping successes in the late 90s? Or that the awful, awaful, awful film Titanic was the highest grossing film of its time. I also wonder if modern culture generally deprives people of a common identity they thirst for. Just look at EMO: I shudder with embarassment when I see these kids who dress up ridiculously trying to look 'zany' and 'offbeat' but just looking spectacularly unimaginative.

    Furthermore, what about classical music/ culture? There was none of that in this clip but surely it has a perpetual appeal and influence?

    On that note, two of the best films about music I remember from the 00s were Walk the Line and The Pianist, with C & W and Chopin soundtracks respectively. Just a point that culture isn't entirely linear.

  • Comment number 73.

    Adam, can't you create a new category alongside the other ones in the top right corner of the blog that includes this post? I remember watching it the first time you posted it, and I suddenly got the urge to watch it again today. Couldn't find it in any of all the other ctaegories, I thought I had gone mad and imagined the whole thing until I found at the very bottom of the page.


  • Comment number 74.

    I love the wrestlers on strike and the way the crowd gathered around the tv reporter in Cairo. Super.


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