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30 JANUARY 2015

Bitter Lake by Adam Curtis: how the West fooled itself

"My aim is to try to get people to look at those fragments of recorded moments from Afghanistan in a new and fresh way. I do feel that the way many factual programmes on TV are edited and constructed has become so rigid and formulaic – that the audiences don't really look at them any more. The template is so familiar.

I am using these techniques to both amplify and express the wider argument of Bitter Lake. It is that those in power in our society have so simplified the stories they tell themselves, and us, about the world that they have in effect lost touch with reality. That they have reduced the world to an almost childlike vision of a battle between good and evil.

This was the story that those who invaded Afghanistan carried with them and tried to impose there – and as a result they really could not see what was staring them in the face: a complex society where different groups had been involved in a bloody civil war for over 30 years. A world where no one was simply good or bad. But those in charge ignored all that – and out of it came a military and political disaster.

But the film also tries to show why Western politicians have so simplified the world. Because Afghanistan's recent past is also a key that unlocks an epic hidden history of the postwar world."

(Adam Curtis, 24 January 2015, The Telegraph)

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1945 • 1970s America • 1973Adam CurtisAfghanistanArab • BBC iPlayer-only • Bedouin • Bitter Lake (2015) • bitter rivalries • caliphate • Come Down To Us (Burial 2013) • complex problems • deal • destabilised politics • documentarydocumentary film • dreamlike documentary style • drone • epic moment • footageFranklin D. Roosevelt • generations to come • global capitalismglobal politics • good versus evil • grand hypothesis • grand political dream • Helmand • ideology • imagined past • Islamic fundamentalism • Islamism • Kabul • King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia • Malcolm Tucker • Margaret ThatcherMiddle Eastmilitary intervention • Pashtun • Perry Mason • Phil Goodwin • Pushtun • recorded moments • Ronald ReaganSaudi Arabia • simplified stories • Solaris (1972) • Suez Canal • Wahhabi Islam • Wahhabism

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
17 APRIL 2014

British Pathe releases 85,000 films on YouTube

"Newsreel archive British Pathé has uploaded its entire collection of 85,000 historic films, in high resolution, to its YouTube channel. This unprecedented release of vintage news reports and cinemagazines is part of a drive to make the archive more accessible to viewers all over the world.

'Our hope is that everyone, everywhere who has a computer will see these films and enjoy them,' says Alastair White, General Manager of British Pathé. 'This archive is a treasure trove unrivalled in historical and cultural significance that should never be forgotten. Uploading the films to YouTube seemed like the best way to make sure of that.'

British Pathé was once a dominant feature of the British cinema experience, renowned for first–class reporting and an informative yet uniquely entertaining style. It is now considered to be the finest newsreel archive in existence. Spanning the years from 1896 to 1976, the collection includes footage–not only from Britain, but from around the globe–ofmajor events, famous faces, fashion trends, travel, sport and culture. The archive is particularly strong in its coverage of the First and Second World Wars.

Alastair White continues: 'Whether you're looking for coverage of the Royal Family, the Titanic, the destruction of the Hindenburg, or quirky stories about British pastimes, it'll be there on our channel. You can lose yourself for hours.'

This project is being managed by German company Mediakraft, which has been responsible for numerous past YouTube successes. The company will be creating new content using British Pathé material, in English and in foreign languages."

(The British Pathé Archive, 17 April 2014)

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1896 • 1976 • Alastair White • amateur photographerarchival materialarchiveBritish filmBritish PatheBritish Royal Family • cinemagazine • cosmeticscultural collecting organisationscultural heritagedigitisation project • Edward Curtis • factory girlfactory workerfilm archive • film collection • filmed news stories • First World War • footagehair styling • heat exchanger • heat pump • Hindenburg disaster • historic filmhistorical collection • holiday camp • Mediakraft • national cultural heritage onlinenews reportnewsreel • newsreel archive • pastimes • Playboy Bunny • Playboy Club • promotion and dissemination • RMS Titanic • sea travel • Second World Warshort subjectssocial history • Titanic disaster • travelogue • vintage films • WWIWWIIYouTubeYouTube channel

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
29 OCTOBER 2013

Jefferson Airplane Wakes Up New York; Jean-Luc Godard Captures It

"He took over from the specialists and operated the camera from the window of Leacock–Pennebaker's office on West Forty–fifth street, shooting the band on the roof of the Schuyler Hotel across the street. (Pennebaker recalled him to be an amateurish cameraman who could not avoid the beginner's pitfall of frequent zooming in and out.) The performance took place without a permit, at standard rock volume: as singer Grace Slick later wrote, 'We did it, deciding that the cost of getting out of jail would be less than hiring a publicist"

(via Open Culture, 24 February 2012)

Fig.1 Jean–Luc Godard filmed the band on a rooftop in Midtown Manhattan (December 7, 1968).

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1960s1968 • alternative zeitgeist • amateurish • amateurish cameraman • anti-mastery • band • cinematic zest • Donn A. Pennebaker • Film Socialisme (2010) • focus and zoom • footageFrench New Wave • Grace Slick • improvisationimprovised methodJean-Luc Godard • Jefferson Airplane • Leacock-Pennebaker • live performanceManhattan • Midtown Manhattan • New YorkOpen Culture (resource) • Paul Kantner • Richard Leacock • Schuyler Hotel • spectacle • The House at Pooneil Corners • West Forty-fifth street • zooming in and out

CONTRIBUTOR

David Reid
08 MAY 2013

The Open Road: an early travelogue in colour

"In 1924 Claude Friese–Greene (cinematographer and son of moving–image pioneer William) embarked on an intrepid road trip from Land's End to John O'Groats. He recorded his journey on film, using an experimental colour process. Entitled The Open Road, this remarkable travelogue was conceived as a series of 26 short episodes, to be shown weekly at the cinema."

(Independent Cinema Office, UK)

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1920s1926BFI National Archive • British pioneer • cinemacinema pioneer • cinema technician • Claude Friese-Greene • colourcolour film • colour footage • colour processcultural heritageepisodes • experimental colour process • footage • Friese-Greene Natural Colour • history of cinema • Independent Cinema Office • John OGroats • Jonquil • journey • Lands End • Londonnatural colour • picture-postcard • road journey • road trip • social history • The Open Road (1926) • travelogueUK • William Friese-Greene • Yann Tiersen

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
22 FEBRUARY 2012

Visit to Picasso: painting on glass

"'Visite à Picasso' is a classic documentary by dir. Paul Haesaerts which features the frequently used footage of Picasso painting on glass while a camera films him from the other side. The trick of filming thru (sic) glass allows the viewer to witness Picasso's true genius as he paints his famous Torros with just a few well–placed brushstrokes. Shot in beautiful black and white in Picasso's home in Vallauris, the film is a poetic treatment of the master–painter."

(DocsOnline)

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1949abstractionartistartistic processblack and white • brushstrokes • bullcraftsmanshipcreative workdesign abstractiondocumentary • filming through glass • footageglass • master-painter • masteryPablo Picassopainterpaintingpainting on glass • Paul Haesaerts • perspective • poetic treatment • taureauthe viewertorros • Vallauris • Visit to Picasso • visual abstractionwitness

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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