The Century of the Self - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Century of the Self Reviews

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December 13, 2015
The Century of the Self is a four part documentary series created by Adam Curtis on psychoanalysis, public relations, advertising, and how these three facets have come to define western society's perception of "the self".

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.
November 13, 2014
Brilliant. THE CENTURY OF SELF is a BBC documentary about psychological techniques used by advertisers and PR guys to undermine ... everything.
July 21, 2014
Essential viewing for most people. Clear-minded and penetrating, it puts most modern attitudes into perspective.
November 26, 2013
Curits probably overstates some of the individual influences, but his thesis is still thought provoking and worth watching.
½ July 24, 2013
Extremely interesting even though it can be quite dry at times.
April 9, 2012
essencial. permite peceber porque que existem pessoas que parece que andam a dormir e outras no
½ November 14, 2011
perhaps the most enlightening documentary i've seen in years. instead of just describing a system that is in place, it comprehensively determines how those systems developed.

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.
January 19, 2011
One of those truly 1 in million perfect documentaries. If you have any interest in the subject of advertising, propaganda or psychology (especially mass psychology) this is a film for you.
December 19, 2010
Od ovih koje sam do sada gledao, najbolji Curtisov dokumentarac.
June 29, 2010
Have you been brainwashed by advertising and public relations? Watch this before you decide. Amazing documentary that will challenge your views of how we got where we are and who is making the decisions. I know my world view is a little shaken up, even though I was somewhat aware of these things before I watched the movie. Wish this was required viewing in public schools.
March 15, 2010
Adam Curtis discusses the secret history of how marketing was influenced by the nephew of Sigmund Freud. He used the theories of repressed desires of sex and greed to alter how companies marketed their goods to consumers. This, in turn, has affected the fields of psychology and, most recently, has led to politicians using these ideas to market candidates based on their 'likability' (Bush, Blair) at the behest of actual substantive debates on real issues.
February 10, 2010
Absolutely brilliant...shame that the people that really need to see this are too busy spending money on shit they don't need...an insight into consumerism, manipulation and Freud's fucked up family....10/10
February 6, 2010
This is a must see film, actually I think I will watch it again soon. It tells the story of how we became a consumerist culture, and of the role of PR and advertising in the 20th century. It focus'' mostly on Edward Bernays, Freud's nephew, and his pivotal role in this process. It offers an interesting insight on the current attitudes in Washington, which are following pretty much with Freud's idea that the masses are to irrational to govern themselves.
½ October 4, 2009
Must see!!

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.
June 11, 2009
My favourite Adam Curtis documentary: The Century of the Self takes an idea - Freud's psychoanalysis - that has been distorted and underplayed in the public consciousness, but in reality has an incredibly influential history stretching itself from the merely personal to the political and economic spheres. Particularly the first two episodes of the series shatter many illusions held by a naive or uninformed viewer by exposing the manipulative mechanisms of marketing and public relations. As usual, Curtis's narrative is sober, uses bare facts over rhetoric, and the visuals and the music choices often poignant and humorous (always a welcome feature!). Truly recommended.
½ June 5, 2009
a brilliant series. a must see
January 16, 2009
The BBC has been releasing some amazing documentaries about the forces that are shaping our times. Everyone should watch both CotS and "The Power of Nightmares."
½ January 15, 2009
Love it. Needs to be applied to a broader understanding as he only connects some factual dots... but in such a context, it is a great film.
January 15, 2009
This is the most recommended movie I make. The best eye opener! Just enough facts to make you start to question things.
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