There’s nothing very surprising in Adam Curtis’ The Trap: What happened to our dreams of Freedom? compelling as it is.
The film, which is in three parts (part 1, part 2, part 3), might as well be called A Brief History of Neo-Liberalism. Using his trademark oneiric style, Curtis shows how the spread of ultra-reductive models of human motivation from the Cold War into economics, education and science led to the occlusion of politics. Much of what Curtis describes makes for a bitter comedy indeed.
Ironically however, The Trap performs its own occlusion of the political. There is simply no sense of any kind of alternative vision, nor any pointers to a solution (of any type). Episodes such as the rise of Margaret Thatcher just ‘happen’, with the immense political conflicts of that period relegated to a footnote. Rather than seeing ideas as being consciously promoted by particular social forces and particular interest groups, Curtis paints a world where we all are just sleepwalking into oblivion for quite mysterious and utterly opaque reasons.
What is left out of The Trap is the very nature of the political as such - struggles, contestation, alternatives.
Despite that criticism it is still very much worthy of a viewing.
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