Curtis, Adam (2011). All Watched Over by Machines of the Loving Grace. BBC Documentary Series, 3 episodes.

Review In 1944, the English writer George Orwell wrote a book that projected the world forty years into the future. The complete society in the book “1984” had succumbed to the control of an authoritarian regime that meticulously monitors all the actions of its citizens, as well as access to information, among other aspects of their lives. In the film “2001 Odyssey in Space” directed by Stanley Kubrick and written by Arthur C. Clark in 1968, the Man of the Future is faced with a monolith that proposes a reflection on his existence.

In both works of fiction, utopian visions of life in the future, the premise for the unfolding of history is based on the idea that machines would be comfortably installed among humans. And like these stories, many others exist. In my opinion, if there is anything that the present man can take for granted, it is that the future will always have a greater participation of machines, a subject that has served as a cornerstone for concepts that address the problem of power.

I think it was this basic concept that Adam Curtis used as a starting point for the documentaries “All Watched by Machines of Graça Amorosa”. However, a narrative of the documentaries is not only based on theorizing hypotheses for the future, it also explores subjects using events from the past to substantiate their views. In my opinion, the themes addressed, regardless of their origin, seek to direct the viewer to the political issue inherent in the matter (the social paradigm in which we live, the ways in which we relate to each other, the terms in which we are governed, among others) and thus provoke reflection / discussion of the subject.

As visions, they mostly involve a critique of Capitalism and the objective of continuous economic growth, as well as currents of alternative thoughts (also those failed), almost always in a political spectrum of the right (association with individualism, stratification of society, differentiation do individual, etc.). Sometimes they are asked for aspects of communism and anarchy, ignoring (or rejecting) moderate solutions on the left political spectrum.

To conclude, the brief references on the freedom of the individual and political corruption that hang a little over all the documentaries, serve, in my opinion, to frame the decisions regarding the philosophies and ideological currents described above. With this, all the pieces that make up the documentary narrative, seem to be in perfect harmony to support the role that the Machine (Man) will have in society. by Rui Moreira

Back to