The Century of the Self Reviews
The series begins in the late 1900's and discusses the Sigmund Freud's contributions to psychology via his theory of psychoanalysis, and how it played an integral part in shaping the methods that governments used to indoctrinate civilians through propaganda. The documentary continues the narrative by introducing us to Edward Bernays, Freud's nephew, the father of public relations who used his uncle's psychological discoveries to help manipulate audiences to better sell them both advertisements and indoctrination.
The documentary argues that these techniques, mixed with the successes of the industrial revolution, created a western zeitgeist that was obsessed with consumerism, superficiality and narcissism. These structural foundations became entrenched so deeply in western consciousness that they ended up influencing the political systems that govern us and modern business practices.
The film relies mainly on stock footage, peppered with talking head interviews from historians and the like, while being held together with Adam Curtis' always insightful narration. The film is incredibly well researched, and manages to link together numerous concepts and show how over the course of 100 years they can have massive effects on society and its perception of the individual. The film has a fantastic pace, and is incredibly eye opening for anyone who has not previously researched the subject, and merely watching the series offers a strong look at ourselves, allowing for self-critique and analysis of the human condition.
TL;DR - 10/10
This is the pinnacle of documentary filmmaking of this nature, and Adam Curtis is at the top of his game in this series. The film tells the story of propaganda and how it affects us, and offers a good lesson in history while it does so. The pace is solid, and the information well researched and explained. It is my opinion that this film should be required viewing by all people, simply so they can be aware of the amount of attempted manipulation that exists in the world around us.
it describes the cause of multiple contemporary social and political issues. it explains how the deficit crunch developed as an issue. why governments in europe and the us will have trouble implementing austerity measures. it is even pertinent in canada; it describes why left wing political parties have abandoned their core values and have instead sought to placate swing voters in the middle class (for instance, the BC NDP's abandonment of environmental issues to favour of lowered fees),
also, instead of painting the issue two dimensionally, it instead recognises the inherent complexities. really, i can't say enough about this documentary.
A revelationary look at what are society has become. A sad, perversion of a society, really... but it must be acknowledged before we can evolve.