One of Chris Morris’s friends remarked that he only really got to understand fundamentalism through Four Lions. This same friend was moved to invest in the film’s early stages and act as its enthusiastic proselytiser.
For him Morris’s film stood above the investigative work of Jason Burke and the playful deconstructions of Adam Curtis. A bold claim indeed.
Four Lions was, he insisted, as deeply insightful as anything they did and it was also easy to follow – not an accusation that could be levelled at Burke’s ‘Al-Qaeda‘, comprehensive and brave though it is.
Adam Curtis is an altogether pacier proposition. His films are challenging but entertaining. The news that he is about to unleash a new and doubtless mind-twisting series is very welcome. Its trailer suggests his trademark is much in evidence – complex and provocative ideas showcased in a mash of comic archive footage and eclectic music.
This time he is All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace. The documentaries will look at how the computerised society we hoped would free us to become inventive individuals has actually enslaved us.
It starts on BBC2 on Monday 23 May at 9pm
Curtis’s other fine work includes his take on the way that Islamic fundamentalism and the West’s Neocons developed at the same time, The Power of Nightmares. It’s a revealing series, not frightened to be smart and also very funny. Curtis has a neat sideline of irreverence for the media he works in which may well have come from an apprenticeship served under Esther Rantzen on That’s Life.