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POWER AND TERROR: NOAM CHOMSKY IN OUR TIMES

SYNOPSIS:
Linguist, scholar and political analyst Noam Chomsky has been a staunch critic of US foreign policy since the war in Vietnam. September 11 raised Chomsky's profile and his opinion/analysis of world events is in high demand at public and educational forums - despite most mainstream American media dismissing Chomsky as misguided or simply wrong. Power and Terror features excerpts from several of Chomsky's speaking engagements between February and May 2002 and an interview with the emeritus professor at his Massachusetts Institute of Technology base.


Review by Richard Kuipers:
"America: love it or leave it" said Gore Vidal before exiting permanently to Rome 30 years ago. Noam Chomsky stayed and is now regarded as the most important intellectual voice involved in the analysis of American foreign policy. In this documentary he addresses large crowds who embrace and even cheer his scathing expose of the real reasons why America is relentlessly pursuing war in Iraq. By the popularity of his speaking engagements and the reception he receives it's clear Chomsky’s views are shared by a significant number of his fellow countrymen. 

Chomsky is dismissed by most mainstream US media as being misguided, foolish and unpatriotic - 'Chomsky's anti-Americanism is just plain wrong', according to The New Statesman. That kind of critique may seem mind-bogglingly stupid to us but therein lies one of the central tenets of Chomsky's own theory about how governments and media collaborate to build consensus for aggressive foreign and domestic. Depressing because Chosky's brilliant mind and memory contextualises what's happening now as part of a process dating back (at least) to American terrorist activities in Vietnam that began in 1950. Depressing because his sane, rational and easy to grasp thoughts (he is the most accessible of intellectuals) deserve to be incorporated in debates in Congress and the UN. Inspiring because we see him addressing thousands of Americans who remind us that not everyone in the US is blindly following the leader. Inspiring because the very media who collude with governments now have such technically sophisticated equipment it's going to be hard for the US to stage manage this Gulf War as easily as the last one. 

As an exercise in documentary filmmaking, Power and Terror is rudimentary. It consists only of material shot at a number of Chomsky's talks between February and May 2002 and an interview filmed in his office at MIT. Don't expect anything like the monumental 1993 doco Manufacturing Consent; this 71 minute presentation directed by Japanese-based American John Junkerman has a rushed feel to its production, no doubt the result of wanting this to be released during the debates on Iraq and North Korea. For all its crude assemblage this is still a valuable document for anyone who wants to know more about America's foreign policy juggernaut than the spin we're fed by politicians and journalists who ought to know better. It touches on many of the themes explored by Michael Moore in Bowling For Columbine (power and profit through fear) and its release couldn't be more timely.

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POWER AND TERROR: NOAM CHOMSKY IN OUR TIMES (G)
(US)

CAST: Documentary featuring Noam Chomsky

PRODUCER: Tetsujiro Yamagami

DIRECTOR: John Junkerman

SCRIPT: John Junkerman

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Koshiro Otsu

EDITOR: Takeshi Hata, John Junkerman

MUSIC: Kiyoshiro Imawano

PRODUCTION DESIGN: n/a

RUNNING TIME: 71 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Gil Scrine

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Sydney: March 6, 2003 (other states to follow)







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