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The Power of Nightmares


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Editorial Reviews

This film explores the origins in the 1940s and 50s of Islamic Fundamentalism in the Middle East, and Neoconservatism in America, parallels between these movements, and their effect on the world today...

This product is manufactured on demand using DVD-R recordable media. Amazon.com's standard return policy will apply.


Special Features

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Product Details

  • Directors: Adam Curtis
  • Producers: BBC
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Studio: successunlimitedpub.com
  • DVD Release Date: November 19, 2007
  • Run Time: 180 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000ZI3G30
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #111,094 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Power of Nightmares" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Andy on July 8, 2006
Format: UMD for PSP Verified Purchase
This is an important documentary film that covers the time period after WWII to the present, from the United States and Britain to Egypt, Afghanistan and Iraq. The detail and evidence is astonishing, shown far more vividly than can be found in most newspapers or even analytical news magazines. In places it's even surprisingly funny! It describes the rise of aggressive neoconservatism (most particularly in the US), in parallel with increasingly militant Islam in the Middle East. It shows how those political and religious ideologies are actually dependent upon each other to generate fear in the general population, of people trying to live their daily lives under conditions where those extremists have gained control. Also revealed is the likelihood that al-Qaeda does not exist, at least not as the international terrorist organization normally described in English-language news reporting. Although not for those with a short attention span, this film is recommended for everyone of voting age; four stars out of five because as long as this film is, it neglects to mention some actions in US foreign policy, despite the great significance of those events in historical context.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By MDBill on July 8, 2009
Format: DVD
My 5 star rating is for the content only. As others have already adequately reported, this Adam Curtis documentary is excellent and should be seen by all. However, the $22.99 version which I just purchased is the same low quality MPEG4 conversion as the lower-priced products. The video is very grainy and is not even close to the quality of the original BBC-TV production. My advice: Watch this on Google video or YouTube; if you must have the DVD, opt for the cheaper versions. Don't waste your money on the $22.99 edition.

It's criminal that there is no high quality version of this important documentary available at any price. Shame on the BBC for failing to create such a product. Amazon UK offers no version of The Power of Nightmares whatsoever. One really has to wonder if someone doesn't feel threatened by what Curtis has to say.
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42 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Howard M. Kindel on May 23, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Here's a brief synopsis of this film: a nutcase is a nutcase is a nutcase. And both the neocons and jihadists fit the bill perfectly. There's a definition of insanity currently making the rounds: that it's doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. But that can also be a symptom of just plain stupidity. A much better definition is doing something totally outrageous and expecting a result completely at odds with common sense and historical precedent. Perfect case in point: one of the Islamic jihadists who helped plan the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat actually believed that seeing the president assassinated would make the people see how corrupt the political system was and they would rise up in rebellion; whereas a sane man would have known that it's precisely in times of national tragedy that people cling all the more tightly to the status quo. Needless to say, this nutcase came in time to see not just the politicians as corrupt but the people themselves. So, too, the neocons set out to destroy Bill Clinton, who they hated; they actually imagined that once the impeachment proceedings began the people would see how corrupt he was and rise up in support of his imeachment. And, of course, they were horrified when the exact opposite happened. Which leads to the most telling piece of both the jihadist and neocon ideology: both believe that personal liberty - individual freedom - is the major symptom of a society's moral decay. Just think about that a moment: these idealogues see an ordinary citizen's freedom to make choices about his or her life as the number one symptom of moral depravity, because it somehow destroys shared social values.Read more ›
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By S. Newton on December 13, 2007
Format: DVD
Curtis does an excellent job of expressing his somewhat-Chomskian take on the so-called War on Terror. Even if one does not accept his every argument, there is still much here to that provokes thought. His emphasis on fear--fear for its own sake, fear as a policy--brings to mind Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine, and its argument of guns being a facet of public fear manufactured by the government for its own ends. Here, Curtis extends fear as a foreign policy, terror as a philosophy.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By C. Marquardt on April 15, 2009
Format: DVD
This is NOT an official BBC DVD, but appears to be a low quality MPEG4 conversion. The source is probably the Internet Archives. Don't waste your money on this DVD: simply download the same quality MPEG4 version from

[...]

And, while you're at it, download Adam Curtis's other excellent documentary, "The Century of the Self." (Don't bother buying the DVD available here at Amazon, mistitled "Century of Self" - again, another MPEG4 to DVD conversion)
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Format: UMD for PSP
One would be hard pressed to find a documentary that does a more admirable job of explaining the logic of the conflict between the world created by the American Neoconservative movement and the terrorist ideology running throughout much of the Middle East today. It not only explains the intellectual sources of so much of the wrong-headedness rampant in the world today, but explains the symbiotic relationship between the Neoconservatives under George Bush and the Muslim extremists who have gathered under the banner of Al Queda. The film does a magnificent job of showing how each side has done a marvelous job of distorting and exaggerating the other and done an amazing job of exploiting the fear that their distortions have created.

The documentary rightfully begins by explaining who Sayyid Qutb and Leo Strauss are. Qutb is the Egyptian thinker who articulated theories that Arab culture had to be protected from the selfish individualism that drove Western liberalism. He believed in the creation of technologically developed states that relied upon Islamic law to dictate the norms of political and moral life. His ideas influenced a number of other Arab thinkers, including Ayman al-Zawahiri, who along with his disciple Osama bin Laden is the titular head of Al Queda. The film explains how al-Zawahiri has bizarrely distorted Qutb's extreme ideas to reason that everyday citizens in Islamic countries that support secular, non-Islamacist states, are in fact not Muslims because of that support and therefore can be killed (the film does not discuss the fact that the teaching that non-Muslims can be killed is an aberration in Muslim theology and would be challenged as valid by virtually all of the world's Muslims).
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