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Dreams and Nightmares

Dreams and Nightmares

curtis.jpgIn the past few days, the heads of two different distributon companies separately told me about a film they consider to be one of the most important documentaries ever made. “Ever made?” I asked. “Yes,” they both answered. So tonight I watched the nearly three-hour movie.

Adam Curtis’ “The Power of Nightmares”, a three part BBC series that had its third Tribeca Film Festival screening tonight is indeed a staggering work. I was left with chills as the movie ended, and members of the audience literally yelled and applauded with appreciation after tonight’s showing.

[Image via BBC.]

“Instead of delivering dreams, politicians now promise to protect us from nightmares,” offers Curtis’ provocative and surely controversial new movie that explores the parallel emergence of American neoconservatives and radical Islamists over the past 50 years. The film, which mixes potent narration with interview footage, historical images, and even pop culture clips, is a compelling, and often chilling, exploration that questions the true theat of global terrorism and states that Al Qaeda is not an organized terror network, as it has been portrayed as since 9/11 .

A new two and a half hour theatrical version will be presented as a special screening in Cannes next month.

“It is not enough to blame enemies, that is fear’s easy answer. It is essential to see the malady in ourselves,” wrote David Thomson about the film for the San Francisco International Film Festival, where it will screen on Sunday. “But first of all, it is necessary for every citizen to see ‘The Power of Nightmares’, and probably more than once. What a festival must do in this situation is simply to play the film as often as possible.”

I’ll certainly be writing more about this movie for indieWIRE, for now I’ll simply include part of a transcript for the series that I found online, including the introductory narration that leads each of the three parts of the series:

In the past, politicians promised to create a better world. They had different ways of achieving this. But their power and authority came from the optimistic visions they offered to their people. Those dreams failed. And today, people have lost faith in ideologies. Increasingly, politicians are seen simply as managers of public life. But now, they have discovered a new role that restores their power and authority. Instead of delivering dreams, politicians now promise to protect us from nightmares. They say that they will rescue us from dreadful dangers that we cannot see and do not understand. And the greatest danger of all is international terrorism. A powerful and sinister network, with sleeper cells in countries across the world. A threat that needs to be fought by a war on terror. But much of this threat is a fantasy, which has been exaggerated and distorted by politicians. It

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