The Living Dead

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The Living DeadOut of the carnage in Europe 50 years ago, the Allies selected certain memories.

They used them to build the official version of the good war.

This film is about how that happened. It tells why certain memories have to be buried and forgotten because they contradicted the optimism of the big historical picture.

The Living Dead (subtitled Three Films About the Power of the Past) was the second major documentary made by the film-maker Adam Curtis.

1. On the Desperate Edge of Now. This episode examined how the various national memories of the Second World War were effectively rewritten and manipulated in the Cold War period. For Germany, this began at the Nuremberg Trials, where attempts were made to prevent the Nazis in the dock—principally Hermann Göring—from offering any rational argument for what they had done. Subsequently, however, bringing lower-ranking Nazis to justice was effectively forgotten about in the interests of maintaining West Germany as an ally in the Cold War.

1. You Have Used Me as a Fish Long Enough. In this episode, the history of brainwashing and mind control was examined. The angle pursued by Curtis was the way in which psychiatry pursued tabula rasa theories of the mind, initially in order to set people free from traumatic memories and then later as a potential instrument of social control. The work of Ewen Cameron was surveyed, with particular reference to Cold War theories of communist brainwashing and the search for hypnoprogammed assassins.

3. The Attic. In this episode, the Imperial aspirations of Margaret Thatcher were examined. The way in which Mrs Thatcher used public relations in an attempt to emulate Winston Churchill in harking back to Britain's "glorious past" to fulfil a political or national end. The title is a reference to the attic flat at the top of 10 Downing Street, which was created during Thatcher's period refurbishment of the house, which did away with the Prime Minister's previous living quarters on lower floors.

Watch the full documentary now (playlist)

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Ratings: 8.29/10 from 24 users.
  • murkha

    Oh what terrible times..

  • Max

    True..

  • CSRealist

    When were the good times?

  • goober

    My deceased husband fought in WWII, and the nightmares and memories of atrocities, only he could know, awoke me many nights with his screams,
    We, as an intelligent species should be able to find a peaceful way to settle our differences.
    Of course that will never happen because there is always someone with a thirst for power who takes pleasure in those atrocities.

  • mik robins

    war only creates hate and thirst for revenge.what will happen when the children of iraq become adults, who have lost family to our weapons.war =war.always has and always will.we must stop this cycle of self destruction.all governments are inherently evil.they all lie and will continue to do so.instead of spending tax money on war how about spending it on education and green energy.instead it is being spent on weapons,prisons,police terrorist training etc.while our children are losing teachers and social programs being taken away.i cam imagine the future of our country is being sold out by our leaders for profit for corporate greed.the crap is getting deep.

  • pichkno

    world will not know the power of love unless it lets go of the love of power

  • Hosehead

    Oh the holocaust, the holocaust. Explains everything and justifies everything, but just one question remains: why can it not be debated without incarceration of anyone who questions the offical version? Sound to you like somneone's got something to hide? Aw, gee no!

  • Anthony

    Vlatko, far be it for me to second guess you, but I'm not to sure this deserves to be in conspiracy genre, politics maybe a better choice or perhaps society.

    I'm not certain but I think the BBC are generally not in the habit of keeping conspiracy theorists on the payroll. ;)

    The only reason I mention it is that when you consider the quality of the documentaries you have stuck in that genre (not that I have watched to many of them!) this one seems a little out of place.

  • riley

    this is really first-rate analysis. Like Anthony, seeing this lumped in a classification which include a lot of nonsense does this particular doc a disservice, because the conclusions and facts upon which the conclusions are based are sound, well reasoned, well supported.

    for example, the exploration of the european post-war generation's collision with their nazi-era parents goes a long way to explaining the ultra-radicalism of the late 60s - 70s in europe.

    this might be the most interesting doc on the site that I've seen.

  • Sam

    A very thoughtful and insightful documentary. Adam Curtis is surely a genius. I wonder, especially in our neo-fascist culture now, how he is allowed to carry on making the programmes he does.

    I watched the first documentary with a new understanding of my family and parents and how very conflicted they were after WW2. (As a child of German parentage, my father was brought up in England and gave distinguished service for the Allies. Both the Nazis and the British treated him and his family very badly - even up to the 60s and 70s).

    It is tragic and even evil that a) as individuals and nations, we project our dark sides onto others and b) that we are still allowing ourselves to be led by psychopathic leaders who will lead us on the thinnest of pretexts into horrific aggression against innocent ordinary people who are as innocent as we are.

    All wars leave profound personal and national wounds. For many WW2 is still a dreadful wound. When will we ever learn? God help us.

  • AnarchoRationalist

    I have to question why this is listed under the "conspiracies" category. It asserts no conspiracy of any kind, aside from perhaps a conspiracy of the collective unconscious.

    This deserves to go under history, or psychology, or politics, or society.

  • Healer

    I think this fits the conspiracy category well. This isn't your traditional conspiracy documentary, the traditional ones tell of things that goverment denies and public wouldn't believe. Those experiments were conducted by the government, and while it may not have been trying to deny them nor in any too visible way hide them, I don't think they'd want people everywhere to know about the experiments nor to discuss the ethical problems of them in the open. If nobody made stories nor news for people to see about these experiments, then they'd just be forgotten even if no one tried to hide them. That's what makes this documentary valuable.

  • son of zaphod

    WAR is a racket. It always has been.

    It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

    Major General Smedley D. Butler, Retired USMC

  • Alex

    This is one of the best docs on here. Great analysis.
    As others have stated above, it does this collection a great disservice to be lumped in with the likes of Illuminati Revelation XXVII and Jew Gold: The True Story.

  • http://www.mvscanada.ca Nick

    Adam Curtis does a great job at presenting difficult topics in a non conspiracy theory way. The "Century of Self" and "The Trap: What happened to our dreams of freedom" are two more excellent docs from Curtis.

  • http://profiles.google.com/nielson318 Randall Nielson

    So how much is a us marine worth in dollars? or a brit or a german... f*** the upper for making us decide!

  • Gary V

    To the government none of them are worth 1 cent, they are all just expendable commodities that they can use to obtain their political gains.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=635807785 Shannon Elizabeth Staley

    Very good. Slow start, but nicely done and illuminating.

  • noelia11

    At the end of the day the one conclusion I take of these three excellent documentaries is that Nazi governments, American governments and British governments all act the exact same way: manipulating history and people's memories of it to serve their own purposes. How can any of these people feel superior to the others? how can they think they are in a position of judging what these other governments did? how can someone seat there and say without even flinching that he and his workmates experimented on human beings until they became "a primitive version of a vegetable"?? These people are worse than serial killers because they actually are convinced that they have the moral grounds that justify their behaviour.
    Hopefully the new generations that have not lived through any of this paranoia can change the world to a more humane place where the ends never justify the means.

  • Hodd

    It should probably link from each category you mention.

  • chrispalahicky

    I thought these were well done documentaries. But really wasn't what I thought they would be based on the synopsis at the top of the page. The first one somewhat showed how history was trying to be altered at the Nuremberg Trials. And it discussed how the Americans and Russians tried to put their spin on it in the post war.
    The second seemed to make the CIA look like they wasted a good portion of the Cold War on control of input and output to the brain. It also showed that due to the level paranoia within the CIA, it made it almost impossible for them to do anything. I'm not American, nor do I think the CIA is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but I give them a lot more credit then this film did. And the third film I thought was just a recap of Margaret Thatcher's time in office.
    There was a lot of good info in these doc's. I thought they were well done. I just found that the synopsis at the beginning was a little off. These doc's are worth the watch. they are good, and full of good info. They just weren't what I was expecting.

  • http://twitter.com/HeathrCalifrnia Heather Wade

    Brilliant!

  • http://www.facebook.com/DamnationCatalyst Bill Young

    @ Chrispalahicky. Agreed, I feel the exact same way. That was my one issue as well. Still well done but I thought it would be something a little different. I think it's important to draw contrasts on what happened and bring the brutality of both sides to light. More importantly give the point of view of the Germans and the suffering they endured but it didn't really seem to do it well. Everything felt suttle. I was looking for a documentary similar to this for a long time though but it was still slightly byist.

  • wheelnut53

    from what took place at the death camps justify anything it took to win the war . its not like the Nazis were going to be nice to the rest of us if they won

  • anastasius

    What a bunch of cornball ****. Talk of Nurenburg without mentioning torture of defendents, mention our greatest ally, Stalin; the monster that made Hitler a saint by comparison.

    Lots was buried then and this film carries on the tradition. Waste of time

  • Ash NA

    Another good Adam Curtis doco. It's thanks to this site that I first discovered his work and I'm grateful that I keep finding more.

    What does sadden me is that with all of his insight and intellectual acuity he, time after time, shrinks back from a deep investigation of the human mind. He is basically all about stripping away illusions, and his films work well to that effect, a deprogramming approach, but he never gets beneath the surface.

    I suppose that's what it means to be a Conservative. One can go so far, but always must erect a defence against total disillusionment, so that the pessimism about human nature, the 'hurt', the unfairness, can be held out to ward off others and keep the individual safe from the baddies. It's the sign of a weak and feeble mind, not one that is free from illusions at all.

  • Sam Di

    I think he simply wants to swing people in a direction, and at the same time remain clean so no one can call him a conspiracy theorist, at which point people will argue eachother over this claim instead of thinking about the information in the films.

  • Richard Neva

    Most people, you included do not adhere to the truth that the Holocaust is a hoax that has cost us billions of dollars!

  • reallyskepticalguy

    Anyone who has a functioning mind and a basic understanding of history from 1900-present will find this "documentary" a waste of time.

  • Elusive

    Nazi were forced to fight due to the Youngs and Dawns Pact which were strict constitutionality imposed on them by the allies after the WW1

  • Ragin Redneck

    so we run the gambit from Nazi denialism to the illuminati in this series so far..... I'll just screw on my bacon hat (f**k tinfoil because bacon) and LAUGH MY A*S OFF at this nonsense. Some people will believe anything