“We live in a strange time. Extraordinary events keep happening that undermine the stability of our world: suicide bombs, waves of refugees, Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, even Brexit. Yet those in control seem unable to deal with them and no one has any vision of a different, or a better, kind of future. This film will tell the story of how we got to this strange place”. This is the opening of HyperNormalisation, one of the most influential films in recent memory. Since the 1990s, its director, Adam Curtis, has unrelentingly revealed the way power works, its meandering architecture, the ideas that configure it, the agents and institutions involved, the way it is etched into contemporary geopolitics, into us. Power reverberates through and constructs one of the most fervent, lucid and revealing bodies of work in recent times, a bona fide natural history of the present, of the times in which we live.
This series compiles, for the first time, a major part of Curtis’s work, spanning feature films, series and short clips reassembled from the vast BBC archive. The films, remastered in new versions made especially for this film season, are accompanied by a masterclass, two carte blanche (‘blank pages’) sessions orchestrated by the director and a series of presentations given by culture theorists. Adam Curtis often insists he is a journalist, not a film-maker or an artist, asserting that his work involves crafting a new analytical and critical model of information and reportage by searching through the discursive and visual montage of images to narrate ideas that emerge in such unhinged times. In excavating archives from the BBC, for whom he makes his films, Curtis deploys an endless stream of contemporary images, writing an account that maps out how certain notions, stories and connections, however unlikely, determine and govern us in the present day.
Adam Curtis is concerned with scrutinising a new narcissistic culture of the self, its relationship to 1960s counter-culture, the birth of the internet and technology networks, and, up against abstract, global financial power, political elites’ inability to lead the world since the Cold War. Underlying narratives include the crisis of representation, the use of the irrational desire of mass consumerism, new forms of social control, the architecture of a new world order, the effects of post-politics as government, and the consequences of so-called post-truth as a guideline for public communication. Drawing parallels with John Dos Passos’s books, Adam Curtis sets forth a multi-faceted body of work, peerless in the sheer density of its subjects, ideas and themes, to mark a transition from essay films to cinema as a novel of the present.
Moreover, Curtis’s films explore different spaces and audiences: produced on alternative devices, distributed on television in multi-episode series and premiered on streaming platforms and new screens. Therefore, in response to these new formats, the Museo will screen individual episodes and entire series in uninterrupted sessions.
All films are screened in their original version with Spanish subtitles.