Posts Tagged ‘documentary film’

The Human trilogy

August 29, 2017

During the past few nights, I watched a three-part documentary movie series called “Human.”   An account of the origin of the film is above, and the three parts are below.

It consists of a series of interviews of people from all over the world about love, war, work, marriage, parenthood, poverty, migration, being gay, being handicapped, the nature of happiness and the meaning of life, plus remarkable aerial photographs of human activity.

It reminded me of the benediction we used to give in my church, which included the words, “behind all our differences and beneath all our diversity, there is a unity that makes us one.”

Each part is about 90 minutes, which is a long time to watch something on a computer screen.  But it is broken up into segments of 15 or 20 minutes, so you don’t have to watch it all at once.

If you watch it, you should use the CC (closed caption) feature, which will tell you the first name of the person being interviewed and the location of the interview or scene.

The film series was made by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, a French environmentalist, photographer, journalist and filmmaker.   He and his 20-person team interviewed 2020 people, in 60-some countries and speaking 63 languages, over a period of three years.

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A documentary of arresting imagery

July 23, 2017

This is a trailer for the forthcoming movie “Awaken,” which is supposed to be a celebration of humanity’s relationship to technology and the natural world.

I don’t know what the following images add up to, but, like Jason Kottke, I think they are lovely to look at.

Adam Curtis on image, reality & suicide bombing

November 10, 2016

Adam Curtis is a documentary filmmaker for the BBC who uses archival footage to remind viewers of forgotten facts and to make connections that others wouldn’t see.

This documentary does not quite add up to a connected whole, but within it is a fascinating history of the evolution of suicide bombing, starting with the attack on the U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon in 1982, the Iran-Iraq war, Palestinian terrorism, the 9-11 attacks and Islamic State (ISIS) terrorism.

Along with it is a history of American and British deception and self-deception in their policies toward Syria and Libya.

Suicide bombing, according to Curtis, as a military tactic by Syria’s ruler Hafiz al-Assad to offset American military power in his region.  Now it is used by ISIS to sow sectarian strife in Iraq and Syria, and bring down Assad’s son, Bashir al-Assad.

He documents how Muammar Qaddafi was set up by American policy-makers as a scapegoat for the crimes of Hafiz al-Assad because he was a more vulnerable foe.

This film is not the whole story of recent Middle Eastern history.  Curtis appears to think that the American and British governments seriously intended to bring democracy to the Middle East, for example.  But he brings out many fascinating facts, some forgotten and some new (at least to me).

I recommend viewing just those parts of the documentary dealing with Syria, suicide bombing and the Middle East, and fast-forwarding through the rest, which consists of disconnected material about Curtis’s long-term concerns about technological manipulation, technological utopianism and the decline of the democratic process.

Click on HyperNormalization if the YouTube version doesn’t work.  Click on The Century of the Self and All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace for Curtis’s best documentaries about his meta concerns.

Donald Trump in the 1980s

September 28, 2015

Hat tip to KeldBach’s Journal.

This informative 1991 documentary film about Donald Trump traces the history of his business up until the bankruptcy of Trump Taj Mahal, the first of four Trump businesses to seek protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

Donald is the son of Fred Trump, a successful developer in Brooklyn.  Part of his success, as the documentary shows, is due to the Trump family money.  Part is due to Donald Trump’s use of his father’s name to obtain political influence and to get use of other people’s money.

The documentary shows Trump was a talented and successful deal-maker.  It shows he was an even more successful salesman and promoter, and how that trumped (so to speak) his failure to provide good service to his tenants or to achieve sustainable financial results.

The makers of the documentary write Trump off as a failure, and yet, as we now know, he bounced back and survived even more setbacks, by using his celebrity to promote the Trump brand.

Is this what we Americans want in a President of the United States?  It would not be a change for the better, but a doubling down on everything that has been wrong in Washington for the past 10 or 15 years—how repeated failures are hidden behind a smokescreen of denital and bluff.

Update [8/8/2016]  The video is no longer in the public domain, but look at the trailer.

The photographer from Riga

April 25, 2015

The great photographer Inta Ruka has been documenting ordinary life in her native Latvia for decades—since before the tiny Baltic nation gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

The video above is a trailer for a documentary film about her life and work by the Swedish filmmaker Maud Nycander.  Click on The Photographer from Riga to see the entire film.  I strongly recommend it to anyone who has the least interest in photography or in a profile of a remarkable person.  (Hat tip to Jack Clontz).

The Century of the Self by Adam Curtis

April 2, 2015

Update 9/16/2016.  Sorry if the older links don’t work.  Try thisOr thisOr this.

Some years ago I posted videos of “The Century of the Self,” the great four-part documentary by Adam Curtis about “how those in power have used Freud’s theories to try and control the dangerous crowd in an age of mass democracy.”

The videos were taken down from the Internet, but Jason Kottke found new iterations and linked to them on kottke.org.  Here they are.  If you haven’t seen them before, I highly recommend watching them.  Each one is a little less than an hour long.

Part One, Happiness Machines, is about how Sigmund Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays, created the profession of public relations in the 1920s and taught American advertisers how to link products with consumers’ unconscious desires, and how these ideas influenced politics in the 1930s.

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