Review of Russia 1985-1999: TraumaZone (2022)
Adam Curtis (writer-director).
Seen in 2023.
What it felt like to live through the collapse of communism and democracy.
By using superimposed captions instead of his own voice, and minimal music, Curtis subverts the common criticism of Can’t Get You Out of My Head (2021) as overly aestheticized. If anything, TraumaZone is deliberately under-aetheticized: Ugly and eager to include snippets of everyday life from the BBC archives. Curtis’s main purpose here seems to be a thick description, “what it felt like”, not humanization or the causal relationships of history. In that vein it is as good as it can be, but because the footage is from the BBC, there’s a built-in outsider perspective.