The Trap: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom (2007) IMDb


Adam Curtis (writer-director).


Uncommonly vicious BBC digest of intellectual history in three parts.


The postwar evolution, implementation and many victims of certain Western governmental concepts of freedom and objectivity, especially in the UK. For example, the first episode is titled “F**k You Buddy”, which is spoken by the dry, fatherly writer-director-narrator (Curtis) in reference to a psychological game designed by the paranoid schizophrenic Nobel laureate mathematician John Forbes “A Beautiful Mind” Nash Jr. The purpose of the (merely symptomatic) “Fuck Your Buddy” game was to encourage betrayal of one’s partner, in line with Nash’s ultimately influential ideas (alongside those of others) about total, unempathetic selfishness as the path to economic efficiency and Cold War victory. The story continues nearly up to the present day, including harsh criticism of the New Labour government.


The first episode is excellent, but does contain some warning signs. The second falls into fluffy paranoia, accusing even gene-centric evolutionary theory of perpetuating illusions as to the benefits of self-interest, which is a sad misunderstanding. The agenda of the maker(s) is unclear; it seems predicated upon theories of human nature that are as untenable as the serious problems they criticize. Some very cute choices of manipulative music include central and recurring use of the theme from Assault on Precinct 13 (1976).

References here: Pandora’s Box (1992).

moving picture non-fiction series