Zeitgeist (film series)

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Not to be confused with Zeitgeist Films or Zeitgeist (film company).

Zeitgeist is a series of documentary-style films directed by Peter Joseph which also has an informal group associated with it known as the Zeitgeist movement.

Zeitgeist: The Movie[edit]

Zeitgeist: The Movie is a 2007 documentary-style film by Peter Joseph presenting a number of conspiracy theory-based ideas. The film disputes the historicity of Jesus Christ (the Christ myth theory) and claims that the 9/11 attacks in 2001 were pre-arranged by New World Order forces,[1] and claims that bankers manipulate world events.[2] In Zeitgeist, it is claimed that the Federal Reserve was behind several wars and manipulates the American public for a One World Government or "New World Order," common themes in the Patriot Movement.[1][2][3] Though the film is based solely on anecdotal evidence, the Zeitgeist original movie, according to writer Paul Constant, "Based solely on anecdotal evidence, it's probably drawing more people into the Truth movement than anything else."[1]

Zeitgeist: The Movie
Directed by Peter Joseph
Produced by Peter Joseph
Written by Peter Joseph
Music by Peter Joseph
Edited by Peter Joseph
Distributed by GMP LLC
Release dates
  • June 18, 2007 (2007-06-18)
Running time
122 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Zeitgeist makes a case that 'everything has always been a part of a master plan to create a New World Order, and the film's emotional climax involves a documentary filmmaker befriending a loose-lipped Rockefeller family member who blurts out the events of 9/11, nearly one year before they happened!' or so the film claims.[1]

Released online on June 18, 2007 at zeitgeistmovie.com, it became popular among conspiracy theorists.[1][2][4] Some critics have questioned the accuracy of its claims and the quality of its arguments, describing it as "agitprop" and "propaganda."[1][5][6] The film assembles archival footage, animations and narration into 'a kind of primer on conspiracies'.[2]

The original Zeitgeist was not a film, but a performance piece, consisting of a vaudevillian, multimedia style event using recorded music, live instruments, and video.[7]

Horus left and Jesus right, both presented in the film as "solar messiahs."

The film opens with animated abstract visualizations, film and stock footage, a cartoon and audio quotes about spirituality by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, followed by clips of war, explosions, and the September 11 attacks. This is followed by the film's title screen. The film's introduction ends with a portion of the late comedian George Carlin's monologue on religion accompanied by an animated cartoon. The rest of the film, divided into three parts, is narrated by Peter Joseph.[1]

Part I questions religions as being god-given stories, stating that the Christian religion specifically is mainly derived from other religions, astronomical assertions, astrological myths and traditions, which in turn were derived from or shared elements with other traditions. In furtherance of the Jesus myth hypothesis this part states that the historical Jesus is a literary and astrological hybrid, nurtured politically.[1]

the 9/11 attacks are the subject, of part two.

Part two, using footage of several 9/11 conspiracy theory films, alleges that the September 11 attacks were either orchestrated or allowed to happen by elements within the United States government in order to generate mass fear, initiate and justify the War on Terror, provide a pretext for the curtailment of civil liberties, and produce economic gain. These ideas include assertions that the U.S. government had advance knowledge of the attacks, that the military deliberately allowed the planes to reach their targets, and that World Trade Center buildings 1, 2, and 7 underwent a controlled demolition.[1] Part III states that the Federal Reserve System is controlled by a small cabal of international bankers who conspire to create global calamities to enrich themselves.[2] Three wars involving the United States during the twentieth century are highlighted as part of this alleged agenda. Events said to have been engineered as excuses to enter into these wars include the sinking of the RMS Lusitania, the attack on Pearl Harbor and the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. The film asserts that such wars serve to sustain conflict in general and force the U.S. government to borrow money, thereby increasing the profits of the international bankers. The film then goes on to state that the Federal Income Tax is illegal.[1]

The film states that the United States Government's income tax is unconstitutional.

This section also says the existence of a secret agreement to merge the United States, Canada and Mexico into a North American Union. The creation of this North American Union is then alleged to be a step towards the creation of a single world government. The film speculates that under such a government every human could be implanted with an RFID chip to monitor individuals and suppress dissent.

The third part of Zeitgeist, according to Paul Constant from The Stranger, is about "how everything has always been a part of a master plan to create a New World Order, and the film’s emotional climax involves a documentary filmmaker befriending a loose-lipped Rockefeller family member who blurts out the events of 9/11 ... nearly one year before they happened!"[1]


The newspaper The Arizona Republic described Zeitgeist: The Movie as "a bramble of conspiracy theories involving Sept. 11, the international monetary system, and Christianity" saying also that the movie trailer states that 'there are people guiding your life and you don't even know it'."[8]

A review in The Irish Times entitled "Zeitgeist: the Nonsense" wrote that "these are surreal perversions of genuine issues and debates, and they tarnish all criticism of faith, the Bush administration, and globalization—there are more than enough factual injustices in this world to be going around without having to invent fictional ones."[5]

Other reviews have characterized the film as "conspiracy crap,"[9] "based solely on anecdotal evidence," and "fiction couched in a few facts,"[1] or they have made disparaging reference to its part in the 9/11 truth movement.[4]

Some journalists have focused on it as an example of how conspiracy theories are promulgated in the Internet age. For example, Ivor Tossell in the Globe and Mail argued that contradictions in the film are overwhelmed by passion and effective use of video editing:

"The film is an interesting object lesson on how conspiracy theories get to be so popular.... It's a driven, if uneven, piece of propaganda, a marvel of tight editing and fuzzy thinking. Its on-camera sources are mostly conspiracy theorists, co-mingled with selective eyewitness accounts, drawn from archival footage and often taken out of context. It derides the media as a pawn of the International Bankers, but produces media reports for credibility when convenient. The film ignores expert opinion, except the handful of experts who agree with it. And yet, it's compelling. It shamelessly ploughs forward, connecting dots with an earnest certainty that makes you want to give it an A for effort."[2]

Filipe Feio, reflecting upon the film's Internet popularity in Diário de Notícias, stated that "Fiction or not, Zeitgeist: The Movie threatens to become the champion of conspiracy theories of today."[10]

Michael Shermer, founder of the Skeptics Society, mentioned Zeitgeist in an article in Scientific American on skepticism in the age of mass media and the postmodern belief in the relativism of truth. He argues that this belief, coupled with a "clicker culture of mass media," results in a multitude of various truth claims packaged in "infotainment units", in the form of films such as Zeitgeist and Loose Change.[11]

Jane Chapman, a film producer and reader in media studies at the University of Lincoln, called Zeitgeist "a fast-paced assemblage of agitprop," an example of unethical film-making.[12] She accuses Peter Joseph of "implicit deception" through the use of standard film-making propaganda techniques. While parts of the film are, she says, "comically" self-defeating, the nature of "twisted evidence" and use of Madrid bomb footage to imply it is of the London bombings amount to ethical abuse in sourcing. In later versions of the movie a subtitle is added to this footage identifying it as from the Madrid bombings. She finishes her analysis with the comment: "Thus legitimate questions about what happened on 9/11, and about corruption in religious and financial organizations, are all undermined by the film's determined effort to maximize an emotional response at the expense of reasoned argument."

On March 17, 2009, in a New York Times article, Alan Feuer noted that Zeitgeist The Movie may be most famous for alleging that the attacks of Sept. 11 were an "inside job" 'perpetrated by a power-hungry government on its witless population', a point of view Mr. Joseph said he "moved away from" (as of 2009 in an interview).[4]

Alex Jones, American radio host, prominent conspiracy theorist and executive producer of Loose Change, stated that film segments of Zeitgeist are taken directly from his documentary Terrorstorm, and that he supports "90 percent" of the film.[13]

Skeptic magazine's Tim Callahan, criticizing the first part of the film (on the origins of Christianity), wrote that "some of what it asserts is true. Unfortunately, this material is liberally—and sloppily—mixed with material that is only partially true and much that is plainly and simply bogus."[14]

Chris Forbes, Senior lecturer in Ancient History of Macquarie University and member of the Synod of the Diocese of Sydney, severely criticized Part I of the movie, stating that it has no basis in serious scholarship or ancient sources, and that it relies on amateur sources that recycle frivolous ideas from one another, rather than serious academic sources, commenting, "It is extraordinary how many claims it makes which are simply not true."[15] Similar conclusions were reached by Dr. Mark Foreman of Liberty University.[16]

Paul Constant writing in Seattle newspaper The Stranger reviewed the religious critique in the film by saying: "First the film destroys the idea of God, and then, through the lens of 9/11, it introduces a sort of new Bizarro God. Instead of an omnipotent, omniscient being who loves you and has inspired a variety of organized religions, there is an omnipotent, omniscient organization of ruthless beings who hate you and want to take your rights away, if not throw you in a work camp forever."[1]

In Tablet Magazine, journalist Michelle Goldberg criticized Zeitgeist: The Movie as being "steeped in far-right, isolationist, and covertly anti-Semitic conspiracy theories," and she went on to write that the film borrows from the work of Eustace Mullins, Lyndon LaRouche, and radio host Alex Jones, saying that Zeitgeist: The Movie portrays a cabal of international bankers purportedly ruling the world.[17] In an interview with TheMarker, Joseph stated that while the film does mention bankers it does not seek to place blame on any individual or group of individuals. He argues they are merely a product of a socioeconomic system in need of change.[18]

Chip Berlet writes that the 9/11 conspiracy theories "are bait used to attract viewers from the 9/11 truth movement and others who embrace conspiracist thinking to the idiosyncratic anti-religion views of the videographer and the world of right-wing antisemitic theories of a global banking conspiracy."[19]

Jared Lee Loughner was described in news accounts as "obsessed" with Zeitgeist. Loughner was convicted of the 2011 Tucson shootings in which six people died and U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords was permanently injured.[13][20] Joseph criticized the media for making this association, accusing them of using Zeitgeist as a scapegoat to avoid discussing the deeper social issues behind spree shootings.[21]

Excerpts used in video[edit]

In June 2013, the band Black Sabbath used extensive imagery from Zeitgeist: The Movie and the Zeitgeist film sequels in their music video "God Is Dead?"[22]

Zeitgeist: Addendum and movement announced by Peter Joseph[edit]

Zeitgeist: Addendum
Directed by Peter Joseph
Produced by Peter Joseph
Music by Peter Joseph
Edited by Peter Joseph
Distributed by GMP LLC
Release dates
  • October 2008 (2008-10)
Running time
123 min
Country United States
Language English

Zeitgeist: Addendum' is a 2008 documentary style film produced and directed by Peter Joseph, and is a sequel to the 2007 film, Zeitgeist: The Movie. It premiered at the 5th Annual Artivist Film Festival in Los Angeles, California on October 2, 2008.

The film begins and ends with excerpts from a speech by Jiddu Krishnamurti. The remainder of the film is narrated by Peter Joseph and divided into four parts.[23] Part One discusses the monetary system in the United States through the fractional reserve banking system as illustrated in the book, "Modern Money Mechanics". Part Two shares an interview with John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hitman. Part Three introduces Jacque Fresco and the Venus Project, and it asserts a need to move away from current socioeconomic paradigms.

The final statement of the film is a call to boycott the most powerful banks in the Federal Reserve System.


Zeitgeist: Addendum won the 2008 Artivist Film Festival's award for best feature ("Artivist Spirit" category).[24]

Originally, the film was uploaded-released on Google video. The current video posting on YouTube surpassed 5,000,000 views by late 2013.[25]

Alan Feuer of The New York Times noted that while the previous film was famous for its alleging that the attacks of September 11 were an inside job, the second installment "was all but empty of such conspiratorial notions, directing its rhetoric and high production values toward posing a replacement for the evils of the banking system and a perilous economy of scarcity and debt."[4]

The Zeitgeist Movement[edit]

The Zeitgeist Movement
Zeitgeist Movement globe.png
Movement logo
Abbreviation TZM
Formation 2008[26]
Type Political movement
Region served
Key people
Peter Joseph
Website www.thezeitgeistmovement.com

The Zeitgeist movement advocates transition from the global money-based economic system to a version of a resource-based economy.[27] The informal group was founded by[27] and all related movies are directed by Peter Joseph who leads the group.[17]

The films criticize market capitalism and the price system method in general. Joseph created a political movement that, according to The Daily Telegraph, dismisses historic religious concepts as misleading and embraces a version of sustainable ecological concepts and scientific administration of society.[28]


Zeitgeist: The Movie (2007) started the chain of events leading to the introduction of the movement.[17] At the end of the subsequent film, Zeitgeist: Addendum (2008), Joseph announced the Zeitgeist movement.[29] The group described itself as the activist arm of The Venus Project, featured in Zeitgeist: Addendum and Zeitgeist: Moving Forward (2011). In April 2011 the two groups ended their association with one reporter describing their contentions as an "apparent power struggle".[29][30]


The group describes the current socioeconomic system as structurally corrupt and inefficient in the use of resources.[4] The Zeitgeist movement advocates transition from a global money-based economic system to a resource-based style economy of the type advocated by the Venus Project's Jacque Fresco.[27]


The Zeitgeist movement's ideas are presented through local and national chapters and online release of media.[27] Zeitgeist holds an annual event, Z-Day, in March.[31]

Critical views[edit]

According to a film critic for the Chicago Sun Times (Bill Stamets) Peter Joseph’s movie Zeitgeist Moving Forward takes an imaginative leap at the end of the movie when a dramatized scenario for peaceful revolt occurs: 'citizens of Earth see the light and toss all their cash into fires outside banks'. The review goes on to say that 'the first two "Zeitgeist" films ["Zeitgeist: The Movie" (2007) and "Zeitgeist: Addendum" (2008)] spawned a grass-roots movement'.[32]

An article in the Journal of Contemporary Religion describes the movement as an example of a "conspirituality", a synthesis of New Age spirituality and conspiracy theory.[33]

In Tablet Magazine, journalist Michelle Goldberg criticized the Zeitgeist movement, saying it "seems like the world's first Internet-based cult, with members who parrot the party line with cheerful, rote fidelity."[17]

Zeitgeist: Moving Forward[edit]

Zeitgeist: Moving Forward is the third installment in Peter Joseph's Zeitgeist film trilogy. The film premiered at the JACC Theater in Los Angeles on January 15, 2011 at the Artivist Film Festival,[34] was released in theaters and online. As of November 2014, the film has over 22 million views on YouTube.[35] The film is arranged into four parts. Each part contains interviews, narration and animated sequences.[36]

Zeitgeist: Moving Forward
Zeitgeist Moving Forward.jpg
Directed by Peter Joseph
Produced by Peter Joseph
Music by Peter Joseph, Lili Haydn and Yes
Edited by Peter Joseph
Distributed by GMP LLC
Release dates
  • January 15, 2011 (2011-01-15)
Running time
161 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The film begins with an animated sequence narrated by Jacque Fresco. He describes his adolescent life and his discontinuation of public education at the age of 14 and describes his early life influences.

Human behavior and the nature vs. nurture debate is discussed. Robert Sapolsky sums up his opinion of the nature vs. nurture debate in which he refers to it as a "false dichotomy." Disease, criminal activity and addictions are also discussed. In part two John Locke and Adam Smith are discussed in regard to modern economics. In Two Treatises of Government, John Locke lays out the fundamental principles of private ownership of land, labor and capital. In The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith uses the term invisible hand as a means to explain how an individual's self-interest benefits society as a whole.[37] Private property, money and the view that inherent inequality exists in a system of private enterprise (price system) is discussed. In part three as with Zeitgeist: Addendum, the film presents a "resource-based economy" as an alternative. In part four the world situation is described as disastrous. The film surmises that pollution, deforestation, climate change, overpopulation, and warfare are all created and perpetuated by the mainstream socioeconomic system.


Zeitgeist: Moving Forward received "Best Political Documentary" in 2011 from the Action on Film International Film Festival.[38]

A review in the The Socialist Standard regarding production values said the film had a "well rounded feel." In terms of content they criticized the "shaky economic analysis" contained in the second part of the film, said that Karl Marx had already undertaken a more scientific analysis, and that, "despite these false beginnings the analysis is at least on the right track." Regarding transition to the new system proposed in the film, the review critically noted that in the film "there is no mention of how to get from here to there."[39]

Fouad Al-Noor in Wessex Scene said that the film was more focused on solutions than the previous film, and commented that while there are controversial elements, he challenged those using labels to describe the film to watch the films.[40]

In her article, published in Tablet Magazine, Michelle Goldberg described the film as "silly enough that at times [she] suspected it was [a] satire about new-age techno-utopianism instead of an example of it."[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Constant, Paul (2007-09-06). "Beauty Is Truth". Features. The Stranger. Retrieved 2014-01-22. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Tossell, Ivor (2007-08-17). "Conspiracy theorists yelling in the echo chamber". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2014-01-19. 
  3. ^ Gane-McCalla, Casey (12 January 2011). "AZ Shooter Was Fan Of Conspiracy Theorist Alex Jones Movies". News One. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Alan Feuer (March 17, 2009). "They’ve Seen the Future and Dislike the Present". The New York Times. Retrieved March 17, 2009. 
  5. ^ a b O'Dwyer, Davin (August 8, 2007). "Zeitgeist: the nonsense". The Irish Times. Retrieved September 16, 2010. 
  6. ^ Frauenfelder, Mark (August 6, 2007). "Jay Kinney reviews Zeitgeist, the Movie.". Boing Boing.
  7. ^ Goldberg, Michelle (February 2, 2011). "Brave New World". Tablet Magazine. The documentary that started it all began as an art project. "The original Zeitgeist was not a film, but a performance piece, which consisted of a vaudevillian style multi-media event using recorded music, live instruments and video," the Zeitgeist website explains. 
  8. ^ Faherty, John (16 January 2011). "Gabrielle Giffords shooter suspect: Moments from a life in spiral". The Arizona Republic. Retrieved 1 October 2014. 
  9. ^ Orange, Michelle (September 10, 2008). "Able Danger". The Village Voice. 
  10. ^ Feio, Felipe (February 18, 2008). "Teoria da conspiração no 'top' do Google Video (Conspiracy theory is the 'top' Google Video)". Diário de Notícias (in Portuguese). Retrieved September 16, 2010. 
  11. ^ Shermer, Michael (July 2009). "What Skepticism Reveals about Science". Scientific American. 
  12. ^ Chapman, Jane (2009). Issues in Contemporary Documentary. Polity Press. pp. 171–173. ISBN 978-0-7456-4009-9. 
  13. ^ a b Goldberg, Michelle (January 13, 2011). "The Cult Web Film that Inspired Loughner". The Daily Beast Company, LLC. Retrieved August 17, 2014. 
  14. ^ Callahan, Tim (2009). "The Greatest Story Ever Garbled". Skeptic 28 (1). 
  15. ^ "Zeitgeist: Time to discard the Christian story?". Interview at the Centre for Public Christianity, Sydney, Australia. 
  16. ^ "Challenging the Zeitgeist Movie: Alleged Parallels between Jesus and Ancient Pagan Religions". Evangelical Philosophical Society. 2011. 
  17. ^ a b c d e Goldberg, Michelle (February 2, 2011). "Brave New World". Tablet Magazine. The first Zeitgeist documentary borrowed from the work of Eustace Mullins, Lyndon LaRouche, and Alex Jones to rail against the cabal of international bankers that purportedly rules the world. 
  18. ^ Discussion of The Zeitgeist Movement with Peter Joseph on YouTube, TheMarkerTV (Israel), Jan. 19, 2012. Interview conducted in English, following a brief introduction to Joseph and the Movement in Hebrew.
  19. ^ "Loughner, "Zeitgeist - The Movie," and Right-Wing Antisemitic Conspiracism". Retrieved 2012-06-03. 
  20. ^ Herreras, Mari (October 14, 2011). "Occupy Tucson Starts Saturday, 9 a.m., Armory Park | The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch". Tucsonweekly.com. Retrieved January 25, 2012. 
  21. ^ Joseph, Peter. "Public statement from the creator of the "Zeitgeist film series", Peter Joseph: Re: The mainstream media association created between "Zeitgeist" and the Tucson murders.". zeitgeistmovie.com. Retrieved 1 October 2014. 
  22. ^ "BLACK SABBATH Taps Controversial Filmmaker PETER JOSEPH For 'God Is Dead? Video". BlabberMouth. June 8, 2013. 
  23. ^ Zeitgeist: Addendum at the Sarasota – Manatee Hebraic Roots Forum, accessed January 31, 2011
  24. ^ "The Artivist Awards". Artivist Film Festival. 2008. Archived from the original on June 28, 2014. Retrieved 2014-01-18. Best Feature – Artivist Spirit: "Zeitgeist: Addendum" directed by Peter Joseph 
  25. ^ TZMOfficialChannel. "Zeitgeist: Addendum". YouTube. Retrieved 2014-01-19. 
  26. ^ "TZM – Mission Statement". Retrieved April 2, 2013. 
  27. ^ a b c d New world re-order: The Zeitgeist Movement spreads to Ventura County, Shane Cohn, VC Reporter (California), May 12, 2011
  28. ^ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/netherlands/9337209/Forest-boy-inspired-by-Zeitgeist-movement.html Retrieved April-29-2014
  29. ^ a b Bill Stamets (February 15, 2011). "Art-house films: ‘Marwencol,’ ‘Zeitgeist’". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved March 7, 2011. 
  30. ^ http://orlandoweekly.com/news/the-view-from-venus-1.1217175?pgno=6 Retrieved May-18-2014
  31. ^ Gilonis, Samuel (21 February 2011). "The Cult of Zeitgeist". Wessex Scene. Retrieved 26 February 2015. 
  32. ^ Bill Stamets: Art-house films: ‘Marwencol,’ ‘Zeitgeist’. Chicago Sun Times, Feb 12, 2011.
  33. ^ Ward, Charlotte; Voas, David (2011). "The Emergence of Conspirituality". Journal of Contemporary Religion 26 (1): 109. doi:10.1080/13537903.2011.539846. Retrieved June 16, 2012. 
  34. ^ http://www.absolutearts.com/artsnews/2011/01/17/artspublish/2348909739.html
  35. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Z9WVZddH9w
  36. ^ Link to film from official site. Retrieved: 31 May 2014.
  37. ^ Smith, A., 1976, The Glasgow edition of the Works and Correspondence of Adam Smith, vol. 2a, p. 456, edited by R.H. Cambell and A.S. Skinner, Oxford: Claredon Press.
  39. ^ "Film Review | The Socialist Party of Great Britain". Worldsocialism.org. Retrieved 2012-06-11. 
  40. ^ Al-Noor, Fouad (6 February 2011). "Zeitgeist: Moving Forward Review". Wessex Scene. Retrieved 31 August 2011. 

External links[edit]