New Story Summiteer and Findhorn Fellow, Paul Allen, reviews a new historical film by Adam Curtis. Paul writes….
“Stories are powerful; they are one of the key means by which we share our values, both with our upcoming new generations but also with those in other places. Stories can shape how we see the world. For generations they have been used to help us make sense of all that is going on around us, sometimes explicitly but more often subliminally.
“One of the most powerful storytellers I have come across in recent times is the BBC archivist and video maker Adam Curtis. He draws upon a deep and rich heritage of archive footage to offer a rich and textured narrative. His most recent work Bitter Lake is currently on BBC i-player, and for anyone interested in how we tell the new story, is well worth a look!”
In his BBC blog on the film, Adam Curtis writes…
“Politicians used to have the confidence to tell us stories that made sense of the chaos of world events.
“But now there are no big stories and politicians react randomly to every new crisis – leaving us bewildered and disorientated….
“I have made a film that tries to respond to this in two ways.
“It tells a big story about why the stories we are told today have stopped making sense.
“But it is also an experiment in a new way of reporting the world. To do this I’ve used techniques that you wouldn’t normally associate with TV journalism. My aim is to make something more emotional and involving – so it reconnects and feels more real….
“The film is called Bitter Lake. It is a bit of an epic – it’s two hours twenty minutes long.
“It tells a big historical narrative that interweaves America, Britain, Russia and Saudi Arabia. It shows how politicians in the west lost confidence – and began to simplify the stories they told. It explains why this happened – because they increasingly gave their power away to other forces, above all global finance.
“But there is one other country at the centre of the film.
“This is because Afghanistan is the place that has repeatedly confronted politicians, as their power declines, with the terrible truth – that they cannot understand what is going on any longer. Let alone control it….
“But it is important to try and understand what happened. And the way to do that is to try and tell a new kind of story. One that doesn’t deny the complexity and reduce it to a meaningless fable of good battling evil – but instead really tries to makes sense of it….
“These complicated, fragmentary and emotional images evoke the chaos of real experience. And out of them I have tried to build a different and more emotional way of depicting what really happened in Afghanistan.
“A counterpoint to the thin, narrow and increasingly destructive stories told by those in power today.” ~ Adam Curtis
UK audiences may view the film on BBC iplayer….
Other works of Adam Curtis include:
The Century of the Self
The Power of Nightmares