29 user 8 critic

HyperNormalisation (2016)

Adam Curtis explains how, at a time of confusing and inexplicable world events, politicians and the people they represent have retreated in to a damaging over-simplified version of what is happening.


Adam Curtis


Adam Curtis
1 nomination. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Adam Curtis ... Narrator (voice)
Donald Trump ... Self - Businessman (archive footage)
Vladimir Putin ... Self - Russia Leader (archive footage)
Victor Gotbaum Victor Gotbaum ... Self - NYC Workers League (archive footage)
Patti Smith ... Self - Singer (archive footage)
Henry Kissinger ... Self - US Secretary of State (archive footage)
Hafez al-Assad ... Self - President of Syria (archive footage)
Thomas Schelling ... Self - Economist (archive footage)
Soraya El-Hayan Soraya El-Hayan ... Self - Syria Social Affairs Minister (archive footage)
Leslie Gelb Leslie Gelb ... Self - US Department of Defense (archive footage)
Ronald Reagan ... Self - President of the United States (archive footage)
Nancy Reagan ... Self - Ronald Reagan's Wife (archive footage)
Ayatollah Khomeini ... Self - Ayatollah of Iran (archive footage) (as Ruhollah Khomeyni)
George Pucciarelli George Pucciarelli ... Self - US Navy Commander, Chaplain (archive footage)
Timothy Leary ... Self - Psychologist (archive footage)
Learn more

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HyperNormalisation tells the extraordinary story of how we got to this strange time of great uncertainty and confusion - where those who are supposed to be in power are paralysed - and have no idea what to do. And, where events keep happening that seem inexplicable and out of control - from Donald Trump to Brexit, the War in Syria, the endless migrant crisis, and random bomb attacks. It explains not only why these chaotic events are happening - but also why we, and our politicians, cannot understand them. The film shows that what has happened is that all of us in the West - not just the politicians and the journalists and the experts, but we ourselves - have retreated into a simplified, and often completely fake version of the world. But because it is all around us, we accept it as normal. From BBCiPlayer

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


They know we know they lie



Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


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User Reviews

Flawed but fascinating in its polemic presentation
21 February 2017 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

At the core of this film is a message which I think we can all appreciate; that the world is complex and filled with diversity but at the same time we are encouraged by our media, hobbies, and politicians, to believe it is much more black/white, and not to expose ourselves to views that contrast with our own. This is not new unfortunately – the politics of the right/wrong is everywhere, and the echo chambers of Twitter, CNN, Fox, and many other "people who liked this also liked these" type tools – it is pretty clear where we are. How we got here is more interesting, and there are worse ways to explore it than to allow Adam Curtis to have a run at explaining it.

The way he does it here is as compelling and confusing and frustrating and flawed as one would imagine; it really succeeds in making some of his other work look like the tightest factual presentation ever. In almost three hours we explore the story by touching on Gaddafi, Ayatollah Khomeini, the internet, politics, Donald Trump, 1970's Russian sci-fi; the Arab spring; perception management, drugs, Brexit, UFO conspiracies, Twitter, and so on. Often the links are tenuous, but Curtis structures it really cleverly – we are given chunks of facts in a presentation that makes sense, and as a result we accept the links even as they jump countries and decades.

The downside is that many will be turned off because this is polemic incorrectly presented as a documentary. It is not the latter but as the former it works very well. Although it runs to almost 3 hours, I did not find it boring, but rather found it quite compelling in its message and the manner in which it is presented. The strength of the film to me was not that it convinces in every word, or that I agreed with it wholly but rather that it gave me plenty to think about. It helps that I am old enough to remember many of these events – to have seen the shifting political allegiances, to experience the moments, and to feel like they were not organic in all cases.

HyperNormalization is a niche film – it did not even make it not a BBC channel but rather was put on the streaming service directly. It is not as smart as it wants to, but it is engaging and interesting whether you agree with all of its assertions or not.

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Official Sites:

bbc | Official Blog | See more »




English | Russian

Release Date:

16 October 2016 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

HyperNormalisation See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



Color (archive footage)| Color
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