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The Trap: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom 

Individual freedom is the dream of our age. It's what our leaders promise to give us, it defines how we think of ourselves and, repeatedly, we have gone to war to impose freedom around the ... See full synopsis »
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2007  

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Individual freedom is the dream of our age. It's what our leaders promise to give us, it defines how we think of ourselves and, repeatedly, we have gone to war to impose freedom around the world. But if you step back and look at what freedom actually means for us today, it's a strange and limited kind of freedom.

Politicians promised to liberate us from the old dead hand of bureaucracy, but they have created an evermore controlling system of social management, driven by targets and numbers. Governments committed to freedom of choice have presided over a rise in inequality and a dramatic collapse in social mobility. And abroad, in Iraq and Afghanistan, the attempt to enforce freedom has led to bloody mayhem and the rise of an authoritarian anti-democratic Islamism. This, in turn, has helped inspire terrorist attacks in Britain. In response, the Government has dismantled long-standing laws designed to protect our freedom.

The Trap is a series of three films by Bafta-winning producer Adam ...

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Human beings will always betray you. You can only trust the numbers.

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2007 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Западня: Что сталось с мечтой о свободе?  »

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(3 parts)

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1.78 : 1
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Narrator: The original idea behind the mathematical system was that it would liberate public servants from old forms of bureaucratic control. Once they were given the targets, they were free to achieve them any way they wanted. But almost immediately, New Labour began to discover that people were more complex and devious than the simple model allowed. Public servants began to find the most ingenious ways of hitting their targets.
James Strachan: It's the fact that the pressure to meet these targets is causing some NHS ...
[...]
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Features Cities: R.D. Laing's Glasgow (1979) See more »

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User Reviews

I didn't agree with all of it or even understand it all but it made me think and was engaging and interesting as a result
30 April 2007 | by See all my reviews

I missed The Power of Nightmares recently so this was my first experience of the films from Adam Curtis. Perhaps, one could say, trying to get used to his style while also trying to take in his cases for societal changes about self interest, market forces, drugs, management styles, genetic control, economics and God knows what. And well perhaps you would be right to say that because no matter how well structured the three part series is, it is still a real challenge to take in and digest one point before the next one comes along.

Of course this is not a bad thing because normally watching television is quite a vegetative state (and if anyone can vouch for that, it is me) so having something that forces you to put your brain in gear is not bad thing. This isn't the same as me saying that Curtis is totally correct in his points or that I completely belief the basis for all the theories and points of view put across here. The reviews of Power of Nightmares (for example) seem to be good when the reviewer agrees with the viewpoint and bad when the reverse is true. I find this a shame and I suspect that it will mostly be the same here because of course if you spend three hours nodding and going "preach brother" then you will no doubt have already decided that it is great series.

Personally I found the delivery and degree of research to be very impressive. The archive footage is mostly very good and the non-relevant use (eg old movies etc) is not overused and is mostly in context. In regards the research and structure of the thesis I cannot even imagine how it is done with a team of people who are all either on the very same word on the same page politically or are very well directed by the man at the top because the basis for the whole argument (not just specific points) is really well done and supported. I don't agree with all the points made or the roots of some of the social changes that Curtis suggests and I think that if you come to this series without any opinion or thoughts of your own then you are probably not in the right frame of mind to appreciate it because I found it more valuable as a tool to spark thoughts in my own head and question what I "know" and also question what I am being told in this series.

Of course the accusations of political slant will be all over this series as with the last and perhaps at some points there is a case to be answered because New Labour is regular target – although I do think this is more to do with the part they play within society of the last ten years rather than a deliberate attempt to drag them into everything. Unexpectedly for me, the main problem I had with it was how it tended to repeat some arguments and go over topics it had already covered but this was a minor quibble for me.

Overall then an interesting and engaging thesis on the nature of recent societal change and theory. It didn't all convince me and had bits that I did disagree with no matter how well structured the argument was but it did make me think, which can only be a good thing. I'm not saying I agreed with it all or that I understood it all, but it was an engaging series of films and certainly different from the rather sedentary documentaries that tend to be in the majority.


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