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March 4, 2014
[curtis] Adam Curtis: “We don’t read newspapers because the journalism is so boring” … another interview with Adam Curtis … ‘So much of the way the present world is managed is through – not even systems – its organizations, which are boring. They don’t have any stories to tell. Economics, for example, which is central to our life at the moment … I just drift off when people talk about collateralised debt obligations, and I am not alone. It’s impossible to illustrate on television, it’s impossible to tell a story about it, because basically it’s just someone doing keystrokes somewhere in Canary Wharf in relation to a server in … I dunno … Denver, and something happens, and that’s it. I use the phrase, ‘They are unstoryfiable’. Journalism cannot really describe it any longer, so it falls back onto its old myths of dark enemies out there.’
January 31, 2013
[tv] Looking Beneath The Waves … another Adam Curtis interview … ‘The great wonder of our time is also a disease of our time: the desire to experience things for ourselves. It’s just the thing at the moment, what we don’t want is to be told stuff. We don’t like elites any longer because we’re all like each other. We want to know it ourselves, we want to feel it. It’s partly due to the rise of individualism. But what we get to is what I call the “duchess paradox”, where everyone is now a duchess in society. The real problem with that is that if you’re all duchesses then what’s the point of being a duchess? Everyone’s a celebrity now. Everyone wants to be a celebrity, they want to be treated like celebrities. They want to go to spas, they want to get married in big, posh houses. People will pay for VIP tickets to concerts. It’s extraordinary. Everyone is desperately searching for where it’s at. The point is there is nowhere it’s at – “it” simply just doesn’t exist. It’s the great tragedy for that generation: they just want to experience something.’
February 21, 2012
[curtis] Interview With Adam Curtis (Part 1): ‘…my working theory is that we live in a managerial age, which doesn’t want to look to the future. It just wants to manage the present. A lot of art has become a way of looking back at the last sixty years of the modernist project, which we feel has failed. It’s almost like a lost world, and we are cataloging it, quoting it, reconfiguring it, filing it away into sliding drawers as though we were bureaucrats with no idea what any of it means. They’ve got nothing to say about it except that they know it didn’t work. It’s not moving onwards—we’re just like academic archaeologists. It’s terribly, terribly conservative and static, but maybe that’s not a bad thing. Maybe in a reactionary, conservative age, that’s what art finds itself doing. The problem is that it pretends to be experimental and forward-looking. But to be honest, in some ways I’m just as guilty. What I do is not so different—using all sorts of fragments from the past to examine the present. Maybe this is simply the iron cage of our time—we’re like archaeologists going back into the recent past, continually refiguring it, surrounding it with quotations. It’s a terrible, terrible prison, but we don’t know how to break out of it.’
July 9, 2011
[notw] Rupert Murdoch – A Portrait Of Satan … great collection of archive material on Rupert Murdoch from Adam Curtis – guest starring Robert Maxwell and Woodrow Wyatt (remember them?)…

Then – in 1995 – Murdoch begins to change. He decides he likes Tony Blair and tells [Woodrow] Wyatt he may support him at the coming election. Wyatt can’t believe it. He had thought that Murdoch would always support the Conservatives.

And then Murdoch does something worse. He tells the editor of the News of the World to cut back on the column that he had allowed Wyatt to write every week.

Wyatt is in despair. There is a wonderful moment in the diaries when Wyatt sleeps all night on the floor of his study next to the phone waiting for Murdoch to ring.

He never does.

June 20, 2011
[docu] The Loving Trap … perfectly done parody/hatchet job of Adam Curtis. [via Meg]
June 12, 2011
[ilike] A Near Perfect Guardian Headline‘Adam Curtis To Make TV Project Inspired By The Wire’
June 2, 2011
[docu] How The ‘Ecosystem’ Myth Has Been Used For Sinister Means … Adam Curtis on the history behind self-organising systems … ‘Field Marshal Smuts was one of the most powerful men in the British empire. He ruled South Africa for the British empire and he exercised power ruthlessly. When the Hottentots refused to pay their dog licences Smuts sent in planes to bomb them. As a result the black people hated him. But Smuts also saw himself as a philosopher – and he had a habit of walking up to the tops of mountains, taking off all his clothes, and dreaming up new theories about how nature and the world worked.’
June 1, 2011
[funny] Dr Johnson On Adam Curtis


May 29, 2011
[docu] Adam Curtis: The Rise of the Machines … Andrew Orlowski interviews Adam Curtis … ‘I’ve always wanted to make a film about managerialism. It’s impossible, because with managers nothing really happens. What I’m dealing with here is the ideology behind managerialism. Behind all this, behind the flipchart, is the idea that you’re nodes in a system, and ‘our job’ is to keep things stable.’
May 24, 2011
[tv] Grace Dent On Adam Curtis’ All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace‘And look at me, I’m so happy. Twitter alone has given me retinal migraine issues, RSI and cajoled me into believing I am a free-thinking revolutionary fanning flames of liberty in Iran, Libya and Syria, when in fact I’m just a woman in pyjamas, hugging an Intel Pentium processor, waiting for Ocado to fetch more olives. Up the revolution … oooh, have these got pimentos in them? Yum, yum, slurp.’
May 11, 2011
[tv] Adam Curtis – All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace … promotional trail for Adam Curtis’ latest documentary … ‘WE DREAMED THE SYSTEMS COULD STABILISE THEMSELVES THROUGH FEEDBACK.’
May 10, 2011
[docu] Have computers taken away our power? … Adam Curtis on his new documetary series “All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace” …

The central idea [of All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace] leads Curtis on a journey, taking in the chilling über-individualist novelist Ayn Rand, former chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan, the “new economy”, hippy communes, Silicon Valley, ecology, Richard Dawkins, the wars in Congo, the lonely suicide in a London squat of the mathematical genius who invented the selfish gene theory, and the computer model of the eating habits of the pronghorn antelope.

You can see why Zoe Williams once wrote that, while watching one of Curtis’s programmes, “I kept thinking the dog was sitting on the remote.”

May 5, 2011
[ObL] For 10 Years, Osama bin Laden Filled A Gap Left By The Soviet Union. Who Will Be The Baddie Now? … Adam Curtis On The Death Of ObL … ‘With Bin Laden’s death maybe the spell is broken. It does feel that we are at the end of a way of looking at the world that makes no real sense any longer. But the big question is where will the next story come from? And who will be the next baddie?’ [via Feeling Listless]
August 11, 2010
[tv] Jon Ronson:

True fact. The That’s Life researcher who found and filmed the dog that says sausages is Adam Curtis.Tue Aug 10 21:40:07 via Echofon


July 5, 2010
[science] The Undead Henrietta Lacks And Her Immortal Dynasty … Adam Curtis has posted his BBC documentary on the story of Henrietta Lacks on to his blog‘Henrietta Lacks’ cells are immortal.’
May 21, 2010
[tv] Eye of the storm: Adam Curtis, the BBC’s in-house provocateur … long engrossing profile / interview of Adam Curtis

‘It can be hard to identify the cinematic progenitors of the Curtis aesthetic because his films sometimes seem like outward manifestations of the world wide web. His projects reorganise and remix previously existing material with new interviews and fieldwork into a new kind of narrative, one that seems analogous to a web browser with 20 tabs open at once. They debunk the utopian ideologies of earlier eras while offering grand, unifying narratives to make sense of our current hyperlinked universe, and succeed to the extent that viewers can keep several complicated arguments in their heads at once. After one emerges from the hypnotic sway of a Curtis film, it can take several days of reflection and research to assess the validity of his arguments.’

February 23, 2010
[politics] Adam Curtis On How All Of Us Have Become Richard Nixon‘Just like him we have all become paranoid weirdos.’ (more…)
December 12, 2009
[curtis] Dubai 1975 … Adam Curtis digs up some intriguing footage of Dubai in 1975 from the BBC Archive‘It is a glimpse of Dubai just before it started to become the strange fantasy world it is today. It has a great creepy British under-secretary for foreign affairs, plus very good tartan fashions.’
October 21, 2009
[tv] Adam Curtis Uncovers The Secrets Of Helmand … Adam Curtis interviewed by Andrew Orlowski … ‘Documentaries, and a lot of television now, is possessed by the mantra that people will only watch your film, or listen to your program, if it “touches something in them”. So the reporting has to find something in Afghanistan that’s some terrible thing that has happened “to somebody like you, or just like your child”. It’s done with the best intentions, and a certain kind of desperation to keep an audience. But it makes it more and more incomprehensible. Because it becomes a land full of victims and out there in the darkness, dark forces we don’t understand.’
July 24, 2009
[curtis] It Felt Like a Kiss – The Film … Adam Curtis’ new experimental film is available to view for a short time exclusively from his blog … ‘When a nation is powerful it tells the world confident stories about the future. The stories can be enchanting or frightening. But they make sense of the world. But when that power begins to ebb… the stories fall apart…’
June 22, 2009
[curtis] Charlie Brooker on Adam Curtis’ latest projects

TV industry! Here’s a little bombshell for you. From now on, all of Curtis’s work will be produced first and foremost for the internet. It will be hosted at bbc.co.uk/adamcurtis (coming soon). Go there to find a trailer for It Felt Like A Kiss. An hour-long cut of the whole thing will be placed on the site on the last day of the Manchester International Festival (MIF). It will also host his next two projects: “A long thing about our complicated relationship to the Congo over the last 100 years and how our idea of nature as a sacred yet terrifying realm has risen up during that same time.” That will be followed by a piece about “the political and cultural ideas that underlie the internet – and the idea that we are all linked in an interconnected web – out of which can come a new form of democracy.”

[tv] Adam Curtis’ Blog … the BBC documentary maker behind The Power of Nightmares and The Way of All Flesh starts blogging … ‘This is a website expressing my personal views – through a selection of opinionated observations and arguments. I’ll be including stories I like, ideas I find fascinating, work in progress and a selection of material from the BBC archives.’
April 12, 2009
[news] Adam Curtis on the Rise of Oh Dear-ism in Television News‘It’s like living in the mind of a depressed hippy.’ (more…)
November 27, 2007
[tv] Adam Curtis : an Audio Special — audio from Andrew Orlowski’s Adam Curtis interview.
November 22, 2007
[tv] The TV elite has lost the plot — Adam Curtis interviewed by Andrew Orlowski … ‘Mark Ravenhill who wrote a very good piece which said that if you analyse television now it’s a system of guidance – it tells you who is having the Bad Feelings and who is having the Good Feelings. And the person who is having the Bad Feelings is redeemed through a “hugs and kisses” moment at the end. It really is a system not of moral guidance, but of emotional guidance. Morality has been replaced by feeling.’
March 14, 2007
[tv] Metafilter discuss Adam Curtis’s The TrapMy feeling was that the ‘secret history’ aspect of the docos has deliberately given the nod to the idea that in some sense there are an infinite number of secret histories, but perhaps that’s my preconceptions interfering.”
March 11, 2007
[tv] Cry freedom — Preview of Adam Curtis’s The Trap‘”I realise what I said at some times may have over-emphasised rationality,” an elderly John Nash tells Curtis in an extraordinary interview, after emerging from years of battling schizophrenia. “Human beings are much more complicated than the human being as a businessman.” In fact, the documentary notes sardonically, experiments show that only two kinds of people behave like perfect little economists in every arena of life: economists themselves, and psychopaths.’
[tv] Charlie Brooker on Adam Curtis’s The Trap – What Happened To Our Dream Of Freedom? (on BBC2, tonight, 9 PM) … ‘Curtis has an uncanny knack for hovering coolly above recent world history and spotting huge, sweeping, disturbing trends, then recounting them in a way that feels subversive and playful, thoughtful and entertaining, all at once. He has an incredible eye for archive footage, assembling one haunting montage after another, apparently from thin air. His programmes unfold like a series of revelations; watching one is like having all your slumbering suspicions about the world – suspicions so dormant you didn’t even realise they were suspicions – confirmed and explained for the very first time.’
February 26, 2007
[quote] Arthur Miller Quote on Suffering and Psychoanalysis: ‘My argument with so much of psychoanalysis, is the preconception that suffering is a mistake, or a sign of weakness, or a sign even of illness. When in fact, possibly the greatest truths we know, have come out of people’s suffering. The problem is not to undo suffering, or to wipe it off the face of the earth, but to make it inform our lives, instead of trying to “cure” ourselves of it constantly, and avoid it, and avoid anything but that lobotomized sense of what they call “happiness”. There’s too much of an attempt, it seems to me, to think in terms of controlling man, rather than freeing him – of defining him, rather than letting him go! It’s part of the whole ideology of this age, which is power-mad!’ (Spotted on Adam Curtis’ documentary Century of the Self)
April 29, 2006
[film] It Becomes a Self-fulfilling Thing — a discussion between Errol Morris and Adam Curtis‘Where people do set out to have conspiracies, they don’t ever end up like they’re supposed to. History is a series of unintended consequences resulting from confused actions, some of which are committed by people who may think they’re taking part in a conspiracy, but it never works out the way they intended.’ [via Kottke's Links]
May 18, 2005
[documentary] The film US TV networks Dare Not Show — the Guardian on Power of Nightmares being shown at Cannes … ‘The film is [...] incendiary for its analysis of what Curtis controversially insists is the largely illusory fear of terrorism in the west since 9/11. Curtis argues that politicians such as Bush and Blair have stumbled on a new force that can restore their power and authority – the fear of a hidden and organised web of evil from which they can protect their people. In a still-traumatised US, those with the darkest nightmares have become the most powerful and Curtis’s film castigates the media, security forces and the Bush administration for extending their power in this way.’
May 2, 2005
[tv] Cannes to screen BBC’s Nightmares — the BBC documentary Power of Nightmares is to be remade as a film … ‘The BBC Two series questioned whether the threat of terrorism to the West was a politically-driven fantasy, winning a Bafta TV award among other prizes. Its three one-hour episodes are being edited into a single two-and-a-half hour movie by producer Adam Curtis after the festival asked to screen it.’ [via Haddock]