28 user 7 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)
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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?


The film closes with a montage, played over a Barbara Mandrell performance.

"Don't help me set the table Cause now there's one less place I won't lay mama's silver For a man who won't say grace If home is where the heart is Then your home's on the street Me, I'll read a good book Turn out the lights and go to sleep".

"Standing Room Only" from This Is Barbara Mandrell. See more »


Narrator: This was a new world that the old systems of power found it very difficult to deal with. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the security agencies secretly collected data from millions of people online. One program was called optic nerve. It took stills from the webcam conversations of millions of people across the world, trying to spot terrorist planning another attack. The program did not discover a single terrorist, but it did discover something else.
See more »


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Blue Calx
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Interpreted by Aphex Twin
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User Reviews

A review without analysis
30 April 2017 | by Gretchen_XSee all my reviews

This is a very long film so I recommend breaking it up into two or more chunks and leaving some time for digestion in between. It has lots of interesting ideas and I guarantee even the best-read will learn something and have a couple of "Hmmmm" moments, if not an "Aha!" one.

Curtis has a way of imposing a narrative upon your active perception using images, music and sounds in ways you would expect from, ahem, a film maker. He even casts himself as a journalist, rather than a storyteller. As a result, you are always aware that you are being manipulated, just like the manufactured reality discussed/presented in the film. You are the audience of the audience.

Proceeding in this spirit, though many people have found Hypernormalisation depressing and frightening, it should not take you anywhere you haven't been before (if you are over 50 anyway). Barbarism in the pursuit of power is not peculiar to the 20th and 21st centuries, it is just a lot bigger and it's online. Hypernormalisation is not for the squeamish, but when you become aware that you have developed a level of immunity to these myriad images of horror, you get to understand what normalisation means. Neither is it for the faint hearted; the target audience may be those who are already deeply cynical.

But Curtis is a clever film maker, let him entertain you.

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Official Sites:

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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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