by Mark Pinder
Watch this: ‘It Felt Like A Kiss‘ made with The Punchdrunk Theatre Company for the 2009 Manchester Festival by Documentary film maker Adam Curtis
For those of you in foreign climes who can’t get BBC iplayer content, ‘It Felt Like a Kiss’ can be viewed in 6 parts on youtube here.
I have always liked Curtis’s work, (apart from perhaps his stint as a researcher for ‘That’s Life‘), a film maker responsible for such brilliant documentaries as The Mayfair Set, (about the rise of corporatism), The Power of Nightmares, (the manufacturing of fear), and The Century of the Self, (Freud, Bernays, and mass manipulation), whose polemical series ‘All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace‘ has recently finished on the BBC.
Unlike most of the critics though, I found this recent series and his previous series ‘The Trap‘ slightly unsatisfying. Whilst interesting, I found some of the narrative leaps disjointed and a bit too tenuous and the theses of both these documentaries just a bit too inconclusive.
This film is brilliant though. In his trademark style, Curtis uses uses montages of news footage out-takes, bizarre cultural artefacts and an ironic soundtrack to take us on a roller coaster, (or perhaps Helter Skelter), ride through 1960’s American history and foreign policy, putting Rock Hudson, Nikita Khrushchev, Charles Manson’s Family, Angela Davis, Enos The Chimp, and a whole host of other iconic characters into the mix, dumping us out the other end just where the thesis of his most recent series begins.
For some reason, Curtis’s film-making reminds me of French film maker Chris Marker especially his Film about memory and forgetting ‘Sans Soleil‘. Marker was most famous for ‘La Jetee‘, a narrative film make up almost entirely of still’s, which was supposedly the inspiration for terry Gilliam’s 1995 film ‘12 Monkeys‘.