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THE POWER OF NIGHTMARES

by
in Filmmaking
on Oct 14, 2004

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Filmmaker has long been interested in smart modern horror, so check out these two web links. The first is the link to the elegantly eerie teaser trailer for The Ring 2, the sequel to the horror hit which also happens to be the first English language film to be directed by the great Hideo Nakata, who helmed the Japanese original.

And then there’s this thought-provoking feature in The Guardian about a three-part BBC series to be aired next week entitled The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear. Written and produced by the documentarian Adam Curtis, the series is a “riskily counterintuitive” response to the current “war on terror.”

Writes The Guardian, “Much of the currently perceived threat from international terrorism, the series argues, ‘is a fantasy that has been exaggerated and distorted by politicians. It is a dark illusion that has spread unquestioned through governments around the world, the security services, and the international media.’ The series’ explanation for this is even bolder: ‘In an age when all the grand ideas have lost credibility, fear of a phantom enemy is all the politicians have left to maintain their power.'”

Read deep into the article and you find some provocative theorizing about the “Straussians,” a group of political thinkers devoted to the teachings of political scientist Leo Strauss of the University of Chicago, who argued in the ’50s that American needed to position itself as a battler of evil throughout the world and employ a series of “grand myths” to create a “higher form of political propaganda.”

Explains the piece, “As Curtis traced the rise of the ‘Straussians’, he came to a conclusion that would form the basis for The Power of Nightmares. Straussian conservatism had a previously unsuspected amount in common with Islamism: from origins in the 50s, to a formative belief that liberalism was the enemy, to an actual period of Islamist-Straussian collaboration against the Soviet Union during the war in Afghanistan in the 80s (both movements have proved adept at finding new foes to keep them going). Although the Islamists and the Straussians have fallen out since then, as the attacks on America in 2001 graphically demonstrated, they are in another way, Curtis concludes, collaborating still: in sustaining the ‘fantasy’ of the war on terror.

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