back to article Bitter Lake: Know your enemy? Impossible, surely, when you don't know if the enemy exists

My favourite moment in Bitter Lake – Adam Curtis' new two hour film about Afghanistan – is a clip of a posh British graduate teaching conceptual art to a class of Afghan women in traditional dress. She shows them Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain. You know – the dirty urinal. One shakes her head. The others just stare politely. “It …

  1. Bloodbeastterror

    "a system of rewards that both keeps us passive and happy"

    I've always thought that UK daytime TV was introduced during a period of mounting job losses in the eighties for this very reason - to give the unemployed something to do instead of rioting about what was going on.

    Is this a valid point? Genuine question - I don't know. But with the constant cynical political manipulation that's increasingly obvious these days I wouldn't be at all surprised.

    1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

      Re: "a system of rewards that both keeps us passive and happy"

      ...I've always thought that UK daytime TV was introduced give the unemployed something to do instead of rioting about what was going on....

      If that were true, would it have been a bad thing?

      1. Naughtyhorse

        Re: "a system of rewards that both keeps us passive and happy"

        and as a consequence of that hashish became ubiquitous... try watching 3 hours of richard and judy when not utterly caned!

  2. Chris Miller

    Duchamp's Fountain was a pristine urinal. Now, if she'd shown them some of Tracey Emin's works ...

  3. Cliff

    Adam Curtis Works

    They are sometimes light on conclusions or delivering, but are always interesting to watch and visually rich and immersive.

    There's an affectionate parody here :-)

    1. Naughtyhorse

      Re: Adam Curtis Works


  4. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    "the mysterious lake in the Tarkofsky movie Solaris"

    It's a planet, not a lake. Slight difference of scale.

    1. Alan Thompson

      Re: "the mysterious lake in the Tarkofsky movie Solaris"

      Clue: it was a lake/ocean on the planet.

      You're welcome.

  5. Buzzword

    It's a bit slow

    Bitter Lake could have been condensed into less than half the runtime. There are too many scenes where the camera languishes over a subject, plinky-plonky music in the background, maybe some text on screen. For the SnapChat generation, it's unwatchable.

  6. Bloodbeastterror


    Well, I watched it this evening, and I couldn't make head nor tail of the premise. I'm not surprised by the lack of comments (four in eleven hours, including my first one). A long, *very* long, two-hour film which could have easily been an engaging one-hour film if the editor had removed the irrelevant crud - a full minute of a soldier stroking a pigeon, FFS? WTF did that add to the message?

    The informative parts were informative. I came away knowing more than I did, but I didn't need a full two hours to achieve it.

    A great pity. I've seen a number of Adam's films and always been informed by them. This is borderline tedious.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Disappointed

      For a quicker Adam Curtis 'hit', search ' Adam Curtis blog ' for some fine selected archive footage, most only a few minutes long and without his voice-over.

      Seems the BBC is no longer constrained by the cost of videotape as it once was - early Dr Who fans know what I mean.

      1. Cliff


        This site is iPlayer only, so not constrained by broadcast linear timeslots. The Beeb are experimenting with using the platform to play to it's strengths.

        Curtis is always as much about the experience as the content, where else would you get Pizzicato Five Japanese pseudo-sixties pop over the top of archive stock of early compete just because?!

        Watch that link I posted around post 4-ish above, it's short and affectionate but somewhat insightful :)

  7. The last doughnut

    I have to admit I've not watched it yet

    I always watch his films and they do throw up some interesting ideas. But he is not shy of putting the story ahead of the facts. This business of simplification is something he knows all about - perpetuating the myth about the death of UK manufacturing being a prime example.

  8. mehdizouaoui

    It was made Bitter

    I have watched Bitter Lake three times and the gist of it is that " everyone has their own version of the truth and the claim that Truth is universal is another story were were told either by politicians or politicians". The project of Afghanistan for Adam is an ocean of Solaris that lures the good and the bad and later changes them into wicked and devil. However, if we look at the troubled countries around the world, with an objective eye, we will certainly see that the West had a hand in it and the slogans of establishing a thriving democracy is no longer than a mere placebo to ease the outsiders. Monsieur Sam

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