THE CENTURY OF THE SELF

Director Adam Curtis
Year 2002
Starring Sigmund Freud, Edward Bernays, Wilhelm Reich, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Lehman Brothers
Run Time 240min
More Info IMDb

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This film, from six-time BAFTA winning cinematic journalist Adam Curtis, is about how those in power have used Freud's theories to try and control the dangerous crowd in an age of mass democracy.

To many in both politics and business, the triumph of the self is the ultimate expression of democracy, where power has finally moved to the people. Certainly the people may feel they are in charge, but are they really? THE CENTURY OF THE SELF tells the untold and sometimes controversial story of the growth of the mass-consumer society in Britain and the United States. How was the all-consuming self created, by whom, and in whose interests?

I. Happiness Machines
Part one documents the story of the relationship between Sigmund Freud and his American nephew, Edward Bernays who invented Public Relations in the 1920s, being the first person to take Freud's ideas to manipulate the masses.

II. The Engineering of Conest
Part two explores how those in power in post-war America used Freud's ideas about the unconscious mind to try and control the masses. Politicians and planners came to believe Freud's underlying premise that deep within all human beings were dangerous and irrational desires.

III. There is a Policeman Inside All of Our Heads, He Must Be Destroyed
In the 1960s, a radical group of psychotherapists challenged the influence of Freudian ideas, which lead to the creation of a new political movement that sought to create new people, free of the psychological conformity that had been implanted in people's minds by business and politics.

IV. Eight People Sipping Wine In Kettering
This episode explains how politicians turned to the same techniques used by business in order to read and manipulate the inner desires of the masses. Both New Labor with Tony Blair and the Democrats led by Bill Clinton, used the focus group which had been invented by psychoanalysts in order to regain power.

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