11 August, 2010

Hell on wheels

I think I've mentioned Adam Curtis before. He's a television documentary maker whose work express a clear sometimes controversial opinion about their subject often at odds with the current received wisdom.

As a profile in the Observer noted:

The fun and surprise of his films is the footage that he uncovers to support his mesmerising essays... ...Curtis has a remarkable feel for the serendipity of such moments, and an obsessive skill in locating them. 'That kind of footage shows just how dull I can be,' he admits, a little glumly. 'The BBC has an archive of all these tapes where they have just dumped all the news items they have ever shown. One tape for every three months. So what you get is this odd collage, an accidental treasure trove. You sit in a darkened room, watch all these little news moments, and look for connections.'

His blog has many inspiring ideas and the footage he finds to illustrate them. Of particular interest at the moment is the glorious footage he's unearthed from 1973 of Britain's first official Hells Angels Chapter.

The film is another pharmaceutical strength shot of reality for anybody in danger of fondly remembering the Seventies as any kind of beacon of style. It's bleak, grubby and unsophisticated, just like the Angels themselves. It chimes very nicely with Hunter Thompson's experience with the Angels. An initial fascination with their lifestyle quickly led him to conclude that they were at best damaged goods, and these guys don't even have sun-drenched Californian backdrop to lend them an air of roguish glamour. Well worth a look.

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