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Creator / Adam Curtis

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Kevin Adam Curtis (born 26 May 1955) is a British film-maker, famous for documentaries on "power and how it works in society". His documentaries often focus on less-explored parts of 20th and early 21st Century history, often discussing political and philosophical movements and ideas that were in play behind the scenes of mainstream media and political theater of the time.

In addition to full length documentary series, Curtis has made three short films for Charlie Brooker's Newswipe.

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His works include:

  • The Century of the Self (2002)
  • The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear (2004)
  • The Trap: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom (2007)
  • It Felt Like a Kiss (2009), with Damon Albarn
  • All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace (2011)
  • Everything is Going According to Plan (2013), a collaboration with Massive Attack.
  • Bitter Lake (2015)
  • HyperNormalisation (2016)
  • Can't Get You Out of My Head: An Emotional History of the Modern World (2021)

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Tropes common in his work:

  • Author Tract: Generally averted, as he prefers to present the facts and let the viewer draw their own conclusions from there, though he goes out of his way in HyperNormalisation to emphasize that politics is fundamentally about lying and creating illusions.
  • Capitalism Is Bad: Much of his work documents the corrosive influence of capital on government and society, though he's not very sympathetic to communism either.
  • Central Theme: Has said that all his films are fundamentally about power. Specifically, his films from The Power of Nightmares onward are about the ways that politicians lie and twist the truth to shape public reality.
  • Drone of Dread: Very common with the music he picks for his films.
  • No Export for You: Due to how much footage Curtis uses in his montages, it's nigh difficult for his films and series to be released internationally.
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  • Not So Different: The central thesis of The Power of Nightmares is that American neoconservatives and Islamic extremists have essentially the same world view and require each other to survive ideologically.
  • Signature Style: With few exceptions, the majority of his films are composed almost entirely of Stock Footage with his narration laid over it, giving them a very raw, almost scrapbook sort of feel. He also prefers to use modern trip hop and electronic music for his soundtracks.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Uses this just as often as Drone of Dread, notably in the intro to HyperNormalisation, where he uses an upbeat trip hop song over footage of riots and the Syrian Civil War.
  • Stock Footage: His films are generally comprised almost entirely of this, though he sometimes uses original interview footage.

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