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New Adam Curtis documentary - Bitter Lake. ALSO new Adam Curtis doc 2020


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Can see this being quite hard going, however fascinating the raw footage is

 

That is a long runtime with no voiceover and just some electric musical washes playing plus assorted out of place tracks that somehow work with the images.

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Why can't he focus on the last 10-15 years? Why can't he narrow on things more closer to home? We're so obsessed by the 20th century. Curtis is always going on about how culture and society has no vision for the future, it's stuck in a loop of revisiting the past. Well, he's exactly the same.

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I'd say that Hypernormalization and Can't Get You Out of My Head did? They started in the 20th century but did get up to the present day.

 

(I don't think Curtis would disagree with you in the large though. What I would like is the return of his interviewing; he's actually a decent interviewer and the last few projects have suffered with the lack of any budget for travelling and talking to people)

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I'm looking forward to this, I haven't really rated the last few things he's made too highly but still enjoy watching the films themselves. There's nobody quite like old AC is there. The fact he's not doing a voiceover for this makes me think he might be trying to shake things up a bit. 

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 22/09/2022 at 16:52, Peter St John said:

I'm hearing that there is no voiceover. Who was after a 420 minute project in the style of Bitter Lake?

 

THERE'S NO BURIAL EITHER.

 

Finished episode one. Everything is falling apart, but Yeltsin looks coy in the back of an aeroplane.

 

(I'm also thinking that a similar project for, say, 1974-1997 in Britain would be amazing)

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It’s very good imo. Yes I miss his narration and soundtrack but he is still weaving a narrative from all the footage and in amongst the grand narrative of a highly ambitious empire falling apart at the seams are little personal stories showing the individual human cost such as the lady who stole the man’s bag (her embarrassment and shame even after bringing it back to the man spoke volumes about the ethos of communism and how it had failed the people, it was very sad) all the way through to the more well known stories such as the hero’s of Chernobyl. He’s a fucking genius film maker and historian, a national treasure. 

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I've only watched 15m just to see what it's like without score or voiceover and whilst I get his point that the footage is everything you need I did find it makes it much harder to watch - you need to be in the perfect frame of mind to take it in and work it out yourself, the cheapo powerpoint text is a distraction and I'd rather that was removed and we had Adam's dulcet tones, even if stripped back and less of them.

 

It seems wrong without them somehow as the footage and edits are so him it's like watching on mute without them. 

 

Showed up on sky on demand now and doesn't delete til 2027 so plenty of time to get thru it, but it feels like a worthy chore rather than a binge watch.

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45 minutes ago, Gotters said:

I've only watched 15m just to see what it's like without score or voiceover and whilst I get his point that the footage is everything you need I did find it makes it much harder to watch - you need to be in the perfect frame of mind to take it in and work it out yourself, the cheapo powerpoint text is a distraction and I'd rather that was removed and we had Adam's dulcet tones, even if stripped back and less of them.

 

It seems wrong without them somehow as the footage and edits are so him it's like watching on mute without them. 

 

Showed up on sky on demand now and doesn't delete til 2027 so plenty of time to get thru it, but it feels like a worthy chore rather than a binge watch.

 

It's funny I was thinking that about 10-15 minutes in but by the end I was so engrossed it didn't actually matter all that much, I think it takes time to adjust and yeah you need to be in the right frame of mind, this isn't mindless tv. Saying that I would definitely prefer his voiceover and soundtrack, I wonder if it was to keep the expenses down, maybe licensing the music costs money?

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36 minutes ago, Peter St John said:

LENINGRAD CAKE FACTORY will haunt your nights.

 

(also, fans of Pandora's Box will recognize the GOSPLAN interview at the start of Ep2)

 

Yeah man, those rolling pins!

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I think in terms of ambience and footage it is masterful and mesmerising, the loss of his voice is only a negative for me and means I can't let me attention wander. I'll keep watching for the haircuts.

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Maybe don't watch six episodes of it at once.

 

Content warnings:

 

Spoiler

Amateur porn and photos of beheadings, plus the vhs footage of unidentified dead soldiers

 

Spoiler

One thing that would be lovely is a list of where things come from. I'd like to watch the entire Little Natasha doc, for example…

 

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Watched 2 episodes now, quite good once you clock on that it's cycling back and forth to clips based on one of the several narratives being told. I was initially worried it would just be a long haul of random clips.

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I've just finished watching this, had to take a little break before the last episode because of the intensity.

It's just relentlessly horrible, really shocking. 

With Curtis' other docs I felt like he was criticising systems he was a part of. With this, since it's a different culture it feels very, I don't know, harsh? Risky? I found it a little harder to trust his authority on the subject, like it might be more of an opinion piece. 

 In a weird way it sort of reminded me of Africa Addio, that sense of damning, scathing criticism of a foreign culture.

Great though!

I'd love to know what some Russians who were around then think of it.

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Its going to be like watching a woman work in a Lada car factory in Vladivostock to then some fishermen making fish soup on a lake near Estonia. His segues are self directed random association but are defo effective and mesmerising. 

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Finished episode 5. The bit with the horse was funny at least.

 

Actually, in hindsight it probably wasn't that funny but 5 hours into this a horse refusing to go into a cart was like watching the absolute pinnacle of comedy and light relief.

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