Adam Curtis - Pandora's Box (1992)
Saturday, May 12, 2007
For 15 years, Adam Curtis has concentrated on a cultural history behind the politics of the 20th century and beyond. In 1992, he made Pandora's Box, six "fables" on the consequences (often dangerous) of political and technocratic rationality, especially when used to crush common sense and a clear reporting of the facts. Nothing concerns Curtis more than the way public relations and spin doctoring have become ways of masking the true nature of modern history - and nothing is so vital to the new forms of modern bureaucratic totalitarianism, the dulcet "order" that has come to fill the ground left by fascism and communism. In other words, the "enlightened" problem solving favored in the most advanced countries, but employed to obfuscate democratic impulses.
01 The Engineer's Plot. The revolutionaries who toppled the Tsar in 1917 thought science held the key to their new world. In fact, it ended up creating a bewildering world for millions of Soviet people. In this light-hearted investigation, one industrial planner tells how she decided the people wanted platform shoes, only to discover that they had gone out of fashion by the time that the factory to manufacture them had been built.
02 To The Brink of Eternity. Focusing on the men of the Cold War on whom 'Dr Strangelove' was based. These were people who believed that the world could be controlled by the scientific manipulation of fear - mathematical geniuses employed by the American Rand Corporation. In the end, their visions were the stuff of science fiction fantasy.
03 The League of Gentlemen. Thirty years ago, a group of economists managed to convince British politicians that they had foolproof technical means to make Britain great again. Pandora's Box tells the saga of how their experiments have led the country deeper into economic decline, and asks - is their game finally up?
04 Goodbye Mrs Ant. A modern fable about science and society, focusing on our attitude to nature. Should we let scientists be the prime movers of social or political change when, for instance, DDT made post-war heroes of American scientists only to be put on trial by other scientists in 1968? What kind of in-fighting goes on between rival camps before one scientific truth emerges, and when it does emerge, just how true is it?
05 Black Power. A look at how former Ghanaian leader Kwame Nkrumah set Africa ablaze with his vision of a new industrial and scientific age. At the heart of his dream was to be the huge Volta dam, generating enough power to transform West Africa into an advanced utopia. But as his grand experiment took shape, it brought with it dangerous forces Nkrumah couldn't control, and he slowly watched his metropolis of science sink into corruption and debt.
06 A is For Atom. An insight into the rise and fall of nuclear power. In the 1950s scientists and politicians thought they could create a different world with a limitless source of nuclear energy. But things began to go wrong. Scientists in America and the Soviet Union were duped into building dozens of potentially dangerous plants. Then came the disasters of Three Mile Island and Chernobyl which changed views on the safeness of this invisible fuel.
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at 10:38 AM