The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear (2004)

TV Mini-Series  |   |  Documentary, History
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A series of three documentaries about the use of fear for political gain.

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Cast

Series cast summary:
Ayman Al-Zawahiri ...
 Himself (archive footage) (3 episodes, 2004)
...
 Himself (archive footage) (3 episodes, 2004)
Gilles Kepel ...
 Himself - Historian of Islamist Movement (3 episodes, 2004)
Sayyid Qutb ...
 Himself (archive footage) (3 episodes, 2004)
...
 Himself (archive footage) (3 episodes, 2004)
...
 Himself (archive footage) (2 episodes, 2004)
...
 Himself (archive footage) (2 episodes, 2004)
William Casey ...
 Himself (archive footage) (2 episodes, 2004)
Melvin Goodman ...
 Himself - Head of Office of Soviet Affairs CIA 1976-87 (2 episodes, 2004)
Stephen Holmes ...
 Himself - Political Philosopher (2 episodes, 2004)
...
 Himself (archive footage) (2 episodes, 2004)
William Kristol ...
 Himself (2 episodes, 2004)
Michael Ledeen ...
 Himself / ... (2 episodes, 2004)
Richard Perle ...
 Himself / ... (2 episodes, 2004)
...
 Himself (archive footage) (2 episodes, 2004)
Azzam Tamimi ...
 Himself - Institute of Islamic Political Thought (2 episodes, 2004)
Paul Wolfowitz ...
 Himself (2 episodes, 2004)
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A series of three documentaries about the use of fear for political gain.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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20 October 2004 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

The Power of Nightmares  »

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(3 parts) | (theatrical)

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1.33 : 1
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[first lines]
Narrator: In the past, politicians promised to create a better world. They had different ways of achieving this, but their power and authority came from the optimistic visions they offered their people. Those dreams failed and today people have lost faith in ideologies. Increasingly, politicians are seen simply as managers of public life, but now they have discovered a new role that restores their power and authority. Instead of delivering dreams, politicians now promise to protect us: from ...
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User Reviews

 
The Power of Television
3 November 2004 | by (Saffron Walden, UK) – See all my reviews

Ever realized that American neo-Conservatism is founded on the principle of the Platonic noble lie? Half-remembered what Donald Rumsfeld was doing in 1976? Never quite believed the cold war propaganda about the "evil empire", or half-suspected that Al-Quaida does not exist? If so, 'The Power of Nightmares' is the program to confirm your fears. If not, it's even more essential viewing.

'The Power of Nightmares' is a brave piece of television that runs completely against the grain of most media representation of the state of our world. Yet it is not a lunatic argument either, and many of the talking heads on screen are those of the very people whose views it deconstructs. Rather, it simply refuses to assume that just because everyone in power is saying something, it must be true. In fact, the evidence that the most basic tenets of "the war on terror" are built on absurdity are almost self-evident; but as the evidence is also inconvenient, it is simply ignored and replaced by something else. In this series, we see the same tactic (employed by many of the same people) put to use in the 1970s, 1980s and now. It's quite chilling to see how much of the prism through which we view the world is a construct of frankly mad idealogues (and I don't just mean Osama, although the similarities of the origins of Muslim fundamentalism and neo-Conservatism are just one illuminating lesson to be drawn from this series).

Adam Curtis lets his interviewees provide his argument for him, but it's cleverly stitched together and his use of archive footage and music is perfect. Crucially, he never allows himself to fall into the trap of accepting cynicism, and there's a note of incredulity throughout the series that succeeds in not granting those in power a drop more credibility than they deserve. This series should have been essential viewing for every American before they voted. First rate stuff.


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