The Living Dead (subtitled as Three Films About the Power of the Past) is the second major documentary made by the film-maker Adam Curtis and tells why certain memories have to be buried and forgotten because they contradicted the optimism of the big historical picture.
On the Desperate Edge of Now:
This episode examined how Germany had rewritten and manipulated the various national memories of the Second World War in the Cold War period. For Germany, this began at the. For the Allied countries, faced with a new enemy in the Soviet Union, there was a need to portray WW2 as a crusade of good against evil, even if this meant denying the memories of the Allied soldiers who had actually done the fighting, and knew it to have been far more complex.
You Have Used Me as a Fish Long Enough:
In this episode, the history of brainwashing and mind control was examined. Curtis pursued the angle in the way in which psychiatry pursued tabula rasa theories of the mind, initially in order to set people free from traumatic memories and then later as a potential instrument of social control, and to this end even the work of Ewen Cameron was surveyed. The programme’s thesis was that the search for control over the past via medical intervention had had to be abandoned and that in modern times control over the past is more effectively exercised by the manipulation of history.
In this episode, the Imperial aspirations of Margaret Thatcher were examined as to how she used public relations in an attempt to fulfill a political or national end. The title is a reference to the attic flat at the top of 10 Downing Street, which was created during Thatcher’s period refurbishment of the house, which did away with the Prime Minister’s previous living quarters on lower floors.