Zeitgeist: The Movie
|Zeitgeist: The Movie|
|Directed by||Peter Joseph|
|Produced by||Peter Joseph|
|Written by||Peter Joseph|
|Music by||Peter Joseph|
|Editing by||Peter Joseph|
|Distributed by||GMP LLC|
|Running time||122 min|
Zeitgeist: The Movie is a 2007 documentary-style film by Peter Joseph. It presents a number of conspiracy theory-based ideas, such as the Christ myth theory, conspiracy theories about the 9/11 attacks in 2001, and argues that bankers manipulate the media and international monetary system.
Released online on June 18, 2007, at zeitgeistmovie.com, it became popular among conspiracy theorists. Some critics have questioned the accuracy of its claims and the quality of its arguments, describing it as "agitprop" and "propaganda."
- 1 Production history
- 2 Synopsis
- 3 Reception
- 4 Sequels and the Zeitgeist Movement
- 5 Pop culture presence
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Zeitgeist: The Movie originated as an art project. According to the Zeitgeist website, "The original Zeitgeist was not a film, but a performance piece, which consisted of a vaudevillian, multimedia event using recorded music, live instruments, and video."
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.
Part I: The Greatest Story Ever Told
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.
Part II: All the World's a Stage
Part II uses integral footage of several 9/11 conspiracy theory films and states 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.
Part III: Don't Mind the Men Behind the Curtain
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. 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.
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.
An updated version of Zeitgeist released in 2010 removes the North American Union section, among other changes.
The film was screened on November 10, 2007, at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood as part of the 4th Annual Artivist Film Festival, where it won the 'best feature' award in the Artivist Spirit category for feature-length documentaries.
Conspiracy theory and propaganda
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."
Other reviews have characterized the film as "conspiracy crap," "based solely on anecdotal evidence," and "fiction couched in a few facts," or they have made disparaging reference to its part in the 9/11 truth movement.
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.
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."
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.
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. 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 reported that Peter Joseph had indicated that he had "moved away from" his opinion on whether the September 11 attacks were an inside job perpetrated by the U.S. government, but a later clarification on the Zeitgeist Movement website clarified that Joseph was shifting his focus, not retracting his views.
Regarding the origins of Christianity
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."
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." Similar conclusions were reached by Dr. Mark Foreman of Liberty University.
Allegations of veiled anti-semitism
In Tablet Magazine, journalist Michelle Goldberg criticized Zeitgeist: The Movie as being "steeped in far-right, isolationist, and covertly anti-Semitic conspiracy theories," and called the Zeitgeist Movement "the world's first Internet-based cult, with members who parrot the party line with cheerful, rote fidelity." 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. 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.
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."[unreliable source?]
Sequels and the Zeitgeist Movement
A sequel, Zeitgeist: Addendum, focuses further on the monetary system and advocates a resource-based social system influenced by the ideas of Jacque Fresco and the Venus Project. Following Zeitgeist: Addendum, Peter Joseph created an organization called the Zeitgeist Movement to promote the ideas of Fresco's Venus Project. An updated version of the original film was produced in 2010 entitled Zeitgeist: Final Edition. A third film called Zeitgeist: Moving Forward was released theatrically on January 15, 2011, and online on January 25, 2011. Peter Joseph has stated that its topics are focused on human behavior, technology, and rationality.
Pop culture presence
- Feuer, Alan (2009-03-16). "They’ve Seen the Future and Dislike the Present". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-01-19. "…wild applause from the sold-out crowd…perhaps 900 people who paid $10 a head…a packed auditorium…"
- Constant, Paul (2007-09-06). "Beauty Is Truth". The Stranger. Retrieved 2014-01-19. "The Truth Movement's newest, most popular film…"
- Tossell, Ivor (2007-08-17). "Conspiracy theorists yelling in the echo chamber". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2014-01-19. "…propelled by recommendations from bloggers whose eyes were opened and lives changed…"
- "Zeitgeist: the nonsense". Irish Times. August 25, 2007 Section: Weekend, page 16
- Constant, Paul. "Beauty Is Truth.". The Stranger. September 5, 2007 Section: Features.
- Frauenfelder, Mark (August 6, 2007). "Jay Kinney reviews Zeitgeist, the Movie.". Boing Boing.
- 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."
- Joseph, Peter (2007). "Companion Source Guide". Zeitgeist: The Movie. The Zeitgeist Movement. Retrieved 2014-01-22.
- Constant, Paul (2007-09-06). "Beauty Is Truth". Features. The Stranger. Retrieved 2014-01-22.
- "Zeitgeist: The Movie – Companion Source Guide, p. 102". Zeitgeistmovie.com. Retrieved August 2013.
- Tossell, Ivor (August 17, 2007). "Conspiracy theorists yelling in the echo chamber". The Globe and Mail.
- "Zeitgeist: The Movie – Q&A". Zeitgeistthefilm.com. Retrieved January 2011.
- "4th Annual Artivist Film Festival and Artivist Awards Announce the Winning Films of This Year's Festival". Artivist Film Festival and Artivist Award press release. November 5, 2007. Retrieved February 10, 2009.
- O'Dwyer, Davin (August 8, 2007). "Zeitgeist: the nonsense". The Irish Times. Retrieved September 16, 2010.
- Orange, Michelle (September 10, 2008). "Able Danger". The Village Voice.
- "Towers of Babble". Utne Reader. January 1, 2008.
- Alan Feuer (March 17, 2009). "They’ve Seen the Future and Dislike the Present". The New York Times. Retrieved March 17, 2009.
- Tossell, Ivor (August 17, 2007). "Conspiracy theorists yelling in the echo chamber". Globe and Mail. Retrieved September 15, 2010.
- 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.
- Shermer, Michael (July 2009). "What Skepticism Reveals about Science". Scientific American.
- Chapman, Jane (2009). Issues in Contemporary Documentary. Polity Press. pp. 171–173. ISBN 978-0-7456-4009-9.
- Callahan, Tim (2009). "The Greatest Story Ever Garbled". Skeptic 28 (1).
- "Zeitgeist: Time to discard the Christian story?". Interview at the Centre for Public Christianity, Sydney, Australia.
- "Challenging the Zeitgeist Movie: Alleged Parallels between Jesus and Ancient Pagan Religions". Evangelical Philosophical Society. 2011.
- 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."
- 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.
- "Loughner, "Zeitgeist - The Movie," and Right-Wing Antisemitic Conspiracism". Retrieved 2012-06-03.
- Travis Walter Donovan (March 16, 2010). "The Zeitgeist Movement: Envisioning a Sustainable Future". The Huffington Post.
- Joseph, Peter. Project Q & A, zeitgeistmovie.com, accessed March 21, 2011.
- Zeitgeist: Moving Forward Official site Retrieved on January 26, 2011
- "BLACK SABBATH Taps Controversial Filmmaker PETER JOSEPH For 'God Is Dead? Video". BlabberMouth. June 8, 2013.
- "Zeitgeist Film Series Creator Peter Joseph Directs New Black Sabbath Music Video "God is Dead?"". Reuters. June 7, 2013.
- Official website
- Zeitgeist: The Movie at the Internet Movie Database
- Zeitgeist: The Movie at Rotten Tomatoes