June 22nd 2018

film, review

Hypernormalisation (Documentary)


Hypernormalisation must be hands down the best documentary I ever saw. Two hours long, I watched it all in one go, I was so mesmerised.
This is in fact part of what the author criticises: news and politics as entertainment, and it isn't even expected to have any connection to reality - that's hypernormalisation.
It draws a very broad picture, across the whole globe and across four decades, how things became that way.
Made just before Trump became president (2016), it now seems a little prophetic even.

There are quite a few very broad statements that would require proof, but because of the very complexity of the whole topic, and the length of the film, and its visual qualities (those carefully chosen clips of high quality BBC material from four decades speak volumes), I forgive the author - and hope that his broad statements are well-researched and have merit. I looked up one or two of these, and so far they were correct (e.g. here).

Critics of Curtis’s films say that his jump-cut techniques and abrupt mood changes in some ways cheat on the dogged legwork of documentary journalism. As ever here, shifts in geopolitics are routinely represented by a couple of seconds of arresting footage – the banality of puppet dictators is illustrated by Colonel Gaddafi checking his hair off camera; the emergence of me-culture becomes Jane Fonda giving up on activism and donning a leotard; to explain the collapse of communism there is a punch-up in a Soviet breadline. Arguments become impressionistic, the criticism goes, an atmosphere of conspiracy is not the same as the exposure of truth.

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