Donald and Ivana Trump, Nicolai and Elena Ceausescu, Jane Fonda, Ted Turner, Hamid Karzai, the heads of Goldman Sachs, the first responders at the Chernobyl diaster, the tragic death of British pop star Pauline Boty and Siberian punk rockers, are all brought into focus during the 90 minute piece. These may seem like broad brushstrokes but Curtis and collaborators manage to effectively pair every ideological point with historical/visual evidence, making our own global history infuriating, compelling, relatable, and human, rather than simply spectacle.
Massive Attack v Adam Curtis’ theses guide you to think deeply and critically about the action and reaction of everything… Our own stagnancy, our own lack of heroism, and the debilitating fear and fatigue we’ve been dumbed into feeling. You will learn, you will feel, you will be affected. The piece and its makers though aren’t satisfied with having it be an exercise in clever historicization, or distanced intellectual reflection (without spoiling anything, the piece’s concluding moments are very clear about pointing out that you have the power to make change). This isn’t art for sake of art. It’s a call to action, and Curtis and Massive Attack provide you with not just information but a space for you to engage with history and your own part in it. In this way it is a work to not only be celebrated but its messages to be disseminated throughout mass culture, to be used as the catalyst so that we may use the past to mold our futures, rather than stay static and paralyzed by the casualties of history and the invasiveness of the powers that be.
And, how we do so, is up to us.