7 February 2008

Sixteen hours of video to enjoy

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Over the last few weeks, I have been watching five documentary series. All of them deeply thought provoking and none of them directly related to the topic of this blog (although three of them deal with psychology and people’s behaviours – the other two focus on the future of technology). I think they are really worth spending your time on and they are can all be found on Google video.

Three of the series are by Adam Curtis, a brilliant British television documentary maker who works for BBC Current Affairs. He is noted for making programmes which express a clear (and sometimes controversial) opinion about their subject, and for narrating the programmes himself.

The Century of the Self consists of four one-hour films examining “how those in power have used Freud’s theories to try and control the dangerous crowd in an age of mass democracy.” It tells the untold and sometimes controversial story of the growth of the mass-consumer society in Britain and the United States. How was the all-consuming self created, by whom, and in whose interests? [Google Video]

The Power of Nightmares consists of three one-hour films that explore how the idea that we are threatened by a hidden and organised terrorist network is an illusion. The films compare the rise of the American Neo-Conservative movement and the radical Islamist movement, making comparisons on their origins and noting strong similarities between the two. More controversially, it argues that the threat of radical Islamism as a massive, sinister organised force of destruction, specifically in the form of al-Qaeda, is in fact a myth perpetrated by politicians in many countries—and particularly American Neo-Conservatives—in an attempt to unite and inspire their people following the failure of earlier, more utopian ideologies. [Google Video]

The Trap also consists of three, one-hour programmes which explore the concept and definition of freedom, specifically “how a simplistic model of human beings as self-seeking, almost robotic, creatures led to today’s idea of freedom.” [Google Video]

The two other programmes are narrated by Michio Kaku, an American theoretical physicist, specialising in string field theory, and futurist.

Visions of the Future is a three-part BBC series, exploring the cutting edge science of today, tomorrow, and beyond. The first part is dedicated to the intelligence revolution, the second to the biotech revolution, and the third to the quantum revolution. [Google Video]

2057 is the only non-BBC programme. It is made by Discovery Channel and attempts to predict what the world will be like in 50 years based on current trends. The show takes the form of a docu-drama with three separate episodes, each having informative stories ingrained into the plot. [Google Video]

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