The Living Dead (1) On the Desperate Edge of Now
Published on 12 mrt. 2020
The Living Dead: Three Films About the Power of the Past is the second major BBC television documentary series by British filmmaker Adam Curtis. It was originally broadcast on BBC Two in 1995. In the series, Curtis examines the different ways that history and memory (both national and individual) have been used and manipulated by politicians and others.
Part 1. ‘On the Desperate Edge of Now’
This episode, broadcast on 30 May 1995, examines how the various national ideals and memories of the Second World War were effectively buried, rewritten and manipulated in the Cold War era, only to violently resurface later with events such as the protests of 1968, the emergence of the Red Army Faction, and the turmoil of the Yugoslav Wars.
For Germany, this process began at the Nuremberg Trials, where the use of the film The Nazi Plan was intended to reveal the criminality of the Nazi state, and attempts were made to prevent defendants — principally Hermann Göring — from providing any rational or contextualized argument for their actions during the war. Subsequently, however, bringing lower-ranking Nazis to justice was all but forgotten in the interests of maintaining West Germany as an important new ally in the Cold War. For the Allies, faced with a new enemy in the Soviet Union, there was a need to portray World War II as a crusade of pure good against pure evil, even if this meant creating a mismatch by denying the memories of the individual soldiers who had actually done the fighting and knew it to have been far more ambiguous.
The title of this episode comes from a veteran’s description of the uncertainty of survival in combat. A number of American veterans related how, years later, they found themselves plagued with previously suppressed memories of the brutal things they had seen and done.
The Living Dead (2) You Have Used Me as a Fish Long Enough
Published on 2 apr. 2017
The Living Dead (3) The Attic
Published on 14 apr. 2020
The Living Dead: Three Films About the Power of the Past is the second major BBC television documentary series by
British filmmaker Adam Curtis. It was originally broadcast on BBC Two in 1995. In the series, Curtis examines the different ways that history and memory (both national and individual) have been used and manipulated by politicians and others.
In this episode, broadcast on 13 June 1995, the national aspirations of Margaret Thatcher are examined, particularly the way in which she used public sentiment in an attempt to capture the national spirit embodied in the famous speeches and writings of the wartime prime minister, Winston Churchill. Curtis argues that by harking back, or summoning the spirit of Britain’s “glorious past”, to fulfil short-term political or national ends, the process backfired in the long-run, trapping the invoker in the societal maladies of the present day.
The example provided is the wartime levels of patriotism invoked in the Falklands War crisis, in which Thatcher’s rugged determination matched national sentiment, only to dissipate a few years later with events such as the poll tax riots, which contributed to her resignation.
The title is a reference to the attic flat at the top of 10 Downing Street created during Thatcher’s refurbishment of the house which did away with the prime minister’s old living quarters on the lower floors, replacing them with 18th-century boardrooms. Scenes from Thatcher’s premiership are intercut with scenes from the psychological horror film The Innocents (1961), a film adaptation of Henry James’s novella The Turn of the Screw.