Adam Curtis

I have always been fascinated by the way music can completely change the way you watch film - and how you feel as you watch the images.

For the last year or so I have been collecting all sorts of footage of people dancing that I found in the BBC archives. In all I gathered over two thousand shots culled from all kinds of programmes. I then cut some of them together to music by the wonderful 70s German band Neu.

I think it gives a sense that we are all together in the dance.

I then took exactly the same sequence of images - I haven't altered even a frame - and put them to a montage of some very different music. There are all sorts of songs and pieces in there - but it owes a great deal to the great romantic musical genius of our age - Burial.

I think that this other version nbsp;you tolook at the people dancingin a very different way. The feeling it evokes ishow separate we are - and how isolated we sometimes are from one another.

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  • Comment number 44. Posted by theartteacher

    on 20 Dec 2012 23:45

    I'd say one thing - drums. That's a large part of the difference.

    I'm probably being quite simple minded, but you've also got the broadly slow tempo of these pieces in the second clip. And without the strict structured beat pronounced by any drums (which are really persistent and prominent in the Neu track) there's a kind of strange emptiness.

    People don't really dance to music without drums or percussion of some sort. It's why the one bit that feels kind of correct is the beautiful pull-away of the ballet dancers, it fits the This Mortal Coil strings beautifully. The rest of it is eerie because it's incongruous, but I think that section, certainly in isolation, feels right.

    I've wondered about Curtis and dancing since AWOBMOLG, particularly part 3. I like the black guy dancing whilst looking in the mirror, by himself. It's funny when it's used in AWOBMOLG (I think it's end of Part 1). But I wonder if someone could say something clever about it evoking individualism, narcissism or isolation?

    Dancing is really prominently used in the section about The Selfish Gene. I don't quite know what to make of that. Maybe it's the opposite to what I mentioned earlier, most of the dances are group pieces, and synchronised. Maybe it's a metaphor for rigid assimilation, or something? Collective action, but where no one could stop the dance, or dance differently? The mechanical precision of I Feel Love emphasises this feeling for me, once again this might be terribly obvious to everyone else. Although I bloody love that song. I heard Adam's mate (Eno) talking about State of Independence, and how he loves the combo of Moroder's mechanical production and arrangement, and Summer's ultra-human passion and soulfulness. He ruined River Deep for me as well.

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  • Comment number 43. Posted by Phil C

    on 16 Dec 2012 23:36

    As others, I loved the first version. I was already to go with feelings of separateness with the second as trailed by Adam, but the funny thing is it just didn't happen. Despite the introspection of the music the sheer physical joy of so many of the dancers kept breaking through and the overridding sense for me was still one of togetherness. It reminded me of the raw physicality of dance and the fun that it gives people, especially when in a group of friends. And thanks for introducing me to Neu.

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  • Comment number 42. Posted by Dewex

    on 14 Dec 2012 19:28

    Could you post one of these on Youtube, please? I'd like to rip the video and add my own score. Thanks.

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  • Comment number 41. Posted by gussie_finknottle

    on 3 Dec 2012 21:13

    Nice to hear This Mortal Coil getting some attention! they made some of the most gorgeously emotional music.

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  • Comment number 40. Posted by Mr_Lancini

    on 28 Nov 2012 05:46

    I found both videos hypnotic and I have been haunted by memories of some of the images for days. Neu, Burial et al make a superb soundtrack.

    In mentioning hypnosis, I'm keen to share the following remarkable story of how a young German WWI corporal with a trauma was transformed by a hypnotic therapy with great consequences.

    http://www.dredmundforster.info/1-edmund-forster-adolf-hitler

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  • Comment number 39. Posted by jimaneejeebus

    on 28 Nov 2012 03:36

    I am gonna stop spamming you now......but when it comes to all your films, you have an uncanny ability to 'show not tell'..... Music is so powerful and can evoke a subtext we didn't even know existed. In the right hands, It plays our emotions like no other medium can. You are a master of this Adam Curtis. Much love and respect to you

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  • Comment number 38. Posted by jimaneejeebus

    on 28 Nov 2012 03:28

    I felt the same at the end of the Gadaffi article when you cut the 'Arab Spring' riots to Jesus and Mary Chain. Not ashamed to admit, I cried... yeah yeah I'm emotional!!

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  • Comment number 37. Posted by jimaneejeebus

    on 28 Nov 2012 02:48

    Also these two videos were really interesting to me as a musician (and also as someone who loves neu and stuff like burial/eno/glass/carpenter/dystopian soundscapey things in general!)

    With video 1, I was smiling all the time.... perhaps connected is too strong a word for how I felt. I felt just kind of happy to see all these people dancing! Still really cool but when compared to video 2 I would say almost pedestrian (not saying your work is pedestrian I quickly add!!)

    With video 2 however, I felt like an alien who had just come to earth for the first time and was gleaning our planet for signs of life! It was so moving. I felt disconnected but in a way strangely connected.... How do I qualify that last sentence. It was as if the juxtaposition of the 'other worldly', sublime music with those very personal human interactions almost amplified the disconnect. But in amplifying the disconnect, you are also reminded that you too are also human, and I got a sense of 'Isn't it amazing, all these human interactions are played out in a little microcosm of the universe... and as if by chance some guy in an editing room in the BBC decided to put them together..... The feeling was amplified over the course of the piece. With the last 3-4 minutes almost over-whelming... Beautiful stuff indeed, and thanyou for taking the time to do this :)

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  • Comment number 36. Posted by jimaneejeebus

    on 28 Nov 2012 02:19

    Hi Adam,

    Just out of an absolute love of all your work and this blog in particular, about a year ago I borrowed/stole/took footage from 'all watched over..' and put it to one of my songs.... Please do not be mad! It was a non commercial release which basically just went to a few select friends..... http://vimeo.com/24986356

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  • Comment number 35. Posted by chimpy

    on 27 Nov 2012 12:49

    I agree with Andrew Smallbone's comment. The people are dancing, so the upbeat rhythm of the Neu! track draws the viewer into the context of the diegetic action - namely celebration. In the second video, you are imbuing the montage with a contrasting idea of what is going on - the editor forces the viewer to stand apart.

    What is now perhaps more interesting is that everyone can play editor and add music to appropriate their own meaning.

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