Monday, May 22, 2006

FILM: The Power of Nightmares, Dir: Adam Curtis

The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear
A BBC Documentary Written/Directed by Adam Curtis
180 Minutes, in 3 episodes
Making the Film Festival Circuit; available, for free, at the Internet Archive.

What the US mainstream press pundits willfully ignore about Stephen Colbert’s recent display of supreme satire at the White House Press Corps Dinner is that, while lacerating the current administration, Colbert’s speech also doubled as a damning indictment of the press itself, print and broadcast mediums alike, and their uncomfortable inability to discuss it as such is pretty telling.

One wonders how much, if any, opprobrium is felt by the news teams at ABC, CBS, (MS)NBC, and CNN when viewing the product coming out of their British cousin BBC News (FOX News, residing at the Weekly World News end of the spectrum, probably doesn’t give a whit). Particularly if they ever decide to take a look at The Power of Nightmares, Adam Curtis’ exploration of the similarities between Fundamentalist Islam, and the Neo-Conservative movement.

Insightful, in-depth, and eye opening (Islamic fundamentalism was birthed in Greeley, Colorado?), Curtis excels in documenting the facts in such a cold and logical manner, it makes the fumbling, sensationalistic nature of anything coming out of the likes of Dateline or 20/20 seem amateurish by comparison. It puts the impassioned, if well-intentioned, Michael Moore into the ham-fisted category.

Which isn’t to say that there isn’t a bias in the film, there is; however, its arguments are nearly irrefutable, simply because it doesn’t go that step too far. The movie gives you the facts and allows you to jump to your own conclusions, even though there’s really not that far to jump.

For example, there is a segment dedicated to the NeoCon’s first foray into power at the White House, where many of the familiar faces of this movement were starting to develop the practices we are now inured to. Specifically, it’s the “just because there’s no discernible evidence [that the enemy doesn’t have x weapon], doesn’t mean it’s nonexistent” ruse. In the case of the 70s, the deadly weapon is a sub-sonic submarine the Soviets are purported to have, and how it is supposed to be impossible to trace by any known methods.

Most would be content to take that bit of non-logic and leave it to the viewer to plumb its maddening nature. Instead, Curtis wisely finds the people who were in the intelligence field at the time (some of them who went on to hold powerful offices in the FBI), and has them, in no uncertain terms, refute the possibility, and, in turn, the logic, outright.

It is fascinating to watch Curtis, using this scalpel-like precision, essentially marry the NeoCon movement with that of Fundamentalist Islam. The similarities may have been noted before, but Curtis makes those connections concrete, once and for all. Just as fascinating is watching the forward progress made by these movements repeatedly fall apart for, essentially, the same reason:

Humanity’s hunger for dominance and power is only outmatched by its desire to live in peace.

Meanwhile, tonight on Dateline: Is Your Neighbor Releasing Rats Into Your Basement? An In Depth Investigation.

Reviewed by Jose’ Amador, 489 words.



Blogger JJisafool said...

Well done, my Beige brother. I'ma have to see this doc.

Great job handling both it and its social context in 500 words.

5:58 PM  

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