UK 81 minutes
London is neither feature film nor documentary but a provocative essay in the form of a journal, recording fictitious journeys through a very real city. Writer, director and photographer Keiller shot the film during 1992, a year which witnessed the re-election of John Major, the continuation of the IRA bombing campaign and the beginning of the ‘fall of the house of Windsor’. The narrator employed by the enigmatic and unseen Robinson, gives many wry insights into the city and its mysteries.
UK 38 minutes
A man and his gay friend Robinson, are recruited as spies. They set out on seven trips around England - to the west and east of London; Oxford and Bristol; the West Midlands; Birmingham and Liverpool; Manchester and Hull; Scarborough and Whitby; and Blackpool and Sellafield.
The Binoculars Building originally known as the Chiat/Day Building for the eponymous advertising agency (now TBWA/Chiat/Day). Notable for its striking Binoculars entrance, the building was designed by Frank Gehry and comprises of three distinctly architecturally different buildings. The binoculars were designed by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. The building was built between 1985 and 1981.
Green Velvet’s ‘Flash’ (1995) overlapped with Brian Eno’s ‘Force Marker’ (1995) from the ‘Heat‘ film soundtrack
“Many of the teenage students I encountered seemed to be in a state of what I would call depressive hedonia. Depression is usually characterized as a state of anhedonia, but the condition I’m referring to is constituted not by an inability to get pleasure so much as by an inability to do anything else except pursue pleasure. There is a sense that ‘something is missing’ - but no appreciation that this mysterious, missing enjoyment can only be accessed beyond the pleasure principle. In large part this is a consequence of students’ ambiguous structural position, stranded between their old role as subjects of disciplinary institutions and their new status as consumers of services. In his crucial essay ‘Postscript on Societies of Control’, Deleuze distinguishes between the disciplinary societies described by Foucault, which were organized around the enclosed spaces of the factory, the school and the prison, and the new control societies, in which all institutions are embedded in a dispersed corporation.“
Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism (2009) pg 21
” ‘A guy told me one time’, says organized crime boss Neil McCauley in Michael Mann’s 1995 film Heat, ‘Don’t let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner’. One of the easiest ways to grasp the differences between Fordism and post- Fordism is to compare Mann’s film with the gangster movies made by Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese between 1971 and 1990. In Heat, the scores are undertaken not by families with links to the Old Country, but by rootless crews … professionals, hands-on entrepreneur-speculators, crime-technicians, whose credo is the exact opposite of Cosa Nostra family loyalty. Family ties are unsustainable in these conditions, as McCauley tells the Pacino character, the driven detective, Vincent Hanna. ‘Now, if you’re on me and you gotta move when I move, how do you expect to keep a marriage?’ …The ethos espoused by McCauley is one Richard Sennett examines in ‘The Corrosion of Character: The Personal Consequences of Work in the New Capitalism’, a landmark study of the affective changes the post-Fordist reorganization of work has brought about. The slogan summing up the new conditions is ‘no long term’. Where formerly workers could acquire a single set of skills and expect to progress upwards through a rigid organizational hierarchy, now they are required to periodically re-skill as they move from institution to institution, from role to role. As the organization of work is decentralized, with lateral networks replacing pyramidal hierarchies, a premium is put on ‘flexibility’. Echoing McCauley’s mockery of Hanna in Heat (‘How do you expect to keep a marriage?’), Sennett emphasizes the intolerable stresses… the conditions of permanent instability put on family life. The values that family life depends upon - obligation, trustworthiness, commitment - are precisely those which are held to be obsolete in the new capitalism.”
Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism (2009) pg 31
The Living Dead: Three Films About the Power of the Past was the second major documentary series made by British film-maker Adam Curtis. This series investigated the way that history and memory (both national and individual) have been used by politicians and others. It was transmitted on BBC Two in thespring of 1995.
On the Desperate Edge of Now (30 May 1995)
The title of this episode comes from a veteran’s description of the uncertainty of survival in combat. It examined how the various national memories of theSecond World War were effectively rewritten and manipulated in the Cold War period.
For Germany, this began at the Nuremberg Trials, where attempts were made to prevent the Nazis in the dock, principally Hermann Göring, from offering any rational argument for what they had done. Subsequently, however, bringing lower-ranking Nazis to justice was effectively forgotten about in the interests of maintaining West Germany as an ally in the Cold War.
For the Allies, faced with a new enemy in the Soviet Union, there was a need to portray World War II as a crusade of pure good against pure evil, even if this meant denying the memories of the Allied soldiers who had actually done the fighting, and knew it to have been far more ambiguous. A number of Americanveterans related how years later they found themselves plagued with the previously-suppressed memories of the brutal things they had seen and done.
You Have Used Me as a Fish Long Enough (6 June 1995)
The title of this episode comes from a paranoid schizophrenic seen in archive film in the programme, who believed her neighbours were using her as a source of amusement by denying her any privacy, like a goldfish in a bowl.
In this episode, the history of brainwashing and mind control was examined. The angle pursued by Curtis was the way in which psychiatry historically pursuedtabula rasa theories of the mind, initially in order to set people free from traumatic memories and then later as a potential instrument of social control. The work of Ewen Cameron was surveyed, with particular reference to the Cold War theories of communist brainwashing and the search for hypnoprogammedassassins.
This programme’s thesis was that a search for control over the past, via medical intervention, had to be abandoned and that, in modern times, control over the past is more effectively exercised by the manipulation of history. Some footage from this episode, an interview with one of Cameron’s victims, was later re-used by Curtis in The Century of the Self series.
The Attic (13 June 1995)
In this episode, the Imperial aspirations of Margaret Thatcher were examined. The way in which Mrs Thatcher used public relations in an attempt to emulateWinston Churchill in harking back to Britain’s “glorious past” to fulfil a political or national end.
The title is a reference to the attic flat at the top of 10 Downing Street, which was created during Thatcher’s period refurbishment of the house, which did away with the Prime Minister’s previous living quarters on lower floors. Scenes from the psychological horror film The Innocents (1961) (a film adaptation of Henry James’s novella The Turn of the Screw) are intercut with scenes from Thatcher’s reign.