Wednesday 13 October 2010

Adam Curtis - The Strange Death of Political England

Many people will be familiar with Adam Curtis' work on the BBC, and his particular M.O. when it comes to documentary making, i.e. the use of carefully sourced original film and video, sometimes in context and sometimes juxtaposed with music and effects to create an atmospheric and darkly humorous feel.

More recently he has started a project on his BBC blog called 'The Strange Death of Political England', an 'emotional history' of Britain from 1970. I imagine that this will take some time to complete, but 1970 is already finished - take a look at it here. The clips are taken from news and current affairs programmes (amongst other sources) and are backed with the music of that particular year. There is something rather poignant watching the ordinary people from 1970 on the screen - taken out of their context as observers of great events or eyewitnesses to history, we actually get to see little shards of ordinary life from the past. The whole thing is a bit like wandering into a photograph, and taking a look at the straggly haircuts, British Leyland cars and pre-decimal adverts.

Anyway, it's great if you love archive film - it shows just how much has been stored away and remains, unseen - and I eagerly await the next year to be completed. Watch out for the report from Cairo after Nasser's death, with the unflappable chap from the BBC being slowly beseiged by members of teh public without once missing a beat, and also a quick look at a booze-puffy Gene Vincent touring around London and talking about conspiracy theories.

Finally, here's the first part of a Curtis series that I haven't seen for years;


  1. love the clip! any idea what that jazz piece is at the beginning?

  2. I will have a dig around and find out.