Before going into the review of the new documentary, I would first like to talk a about what the previous Zeitgeist documentaries were about and a little history to put this world phenomenon into perspective.
First we need to define what the word Zeitgeist actually means. As you might have expected it is a German word, and from Wikipedia we have the definition as follows:
“[Zeitgeist] is “the spirit of the times” or “the spirit of the age.” Zeitgeist is the general cultural, intellectual, ethical, spiritual, and/or political climate within a nation or even specific groups, along with the general ambiance, morals, sociocultural direction, and mood associated with an era.”
Now that we have the definition out of the way, we can take a look at how it all began. The first Zeitgeist film came out in 2007 entitled “Zeitgeist: The Movie”. The whole thing was written, produced and directed by a man named Peter Joseph. It is a little tricky to actually put it into the category of film since it was initially Peter Joseph’s artistic expression and was not intended to be anything more than that. It was then arbitrarily released into the internet as Peter Joseph states on the films website:
“The history of “Zeitgeist: The Movie” is not what many assume. The original Zeitgeist was actually not a “film”, but a performance piece, which consisted of a vaudevillian style multi-media event using recorded music, live instruments and video. The event was given over a 6-night period in New York City and then, without any interest to professionally release or produce the work, was “tossed” up on the Internet arbitrarily.”
The first film consisted of three parts. Part 1, “The Greatest Story Ever Sold”, this part was mostly regarding the detrimental aspects of religion in general but then quickly focuses on how Christianity came from pagan root’s as well as stating how Jesus is very similar to many ancient Egyptian god’s such as Horus. I must say that this part is probably the most controversial of all the Zeitgeist films and have been “debunked” by some scholars. While in one of Peter Joseph’s podcasts he did have an interview with D. M. Murdock (the main source of information for part 1) which was a reply to any “debunking” made, though at this point it is still highly controversial.
Part 2 and 3 were called “All the world’s a Stage” and “Don’t Mind the Men Behind the Curtain” I won’t dwell too much on them in this review as this is about Zeitgeist: Moving Forward, so I shall keep it brief.
Part 2 is about 9/11 and how it was organized by the United States government. I actually found this part very interesting but again, it is pretty controversial. In this case there is some support of the claim that the United States government has not been honest with its citizens (all links at the bottom of this article) and that the twin towers could not have fallen down due to jet fuel as stated by the 9/11 commission report, but in order to actually accept these claims (even if they were true) we would have to accept going into wars, the death of thousands, new restrictive laws such as the patriot act would all be based on lies. Though I must say, after the liberal democrats lied about voting against the tuition fee rise then I don’t think these things are as farfetched as they might seem.
Part 3 is about how international bankers forced USA to go into three wars in the twentieth century and how the Federal Reserve (the central bank of USA) was created in a very deceptive way and that it sustains war so that it can profit. It also states that Federal Income tax in the USA is illegal as it is unconstitutional. I found this part the most interesting simply because it makes you think about where money and laws come from and how they work. It does lead you to think about why wars last so long and make you generally more sceptical of what the government’s state as truth.
Now please bear with me as I quickly go over the second Zeitgeist film entitled: Zeitgeist: Addendum.
This film was released in 2008 and this time it was intended to be used as a film. It starts off with explaining how important money is and how it is created. It then goes on to state why it is so paralyzing when it comes to sustainability and progress in our society before moving on to the topic of “Economic Hitmen” where John Perkins (author of “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man”) talks about how governments are forced to borrow money from the IMF (International Monetary Fund) or the World Bank. It shows how governments are essentially being enslaved by large companies who privatize the state owned companies (such as water supply companies etc) , devalue the country’s currency and then buy their raw materials for very cheap prices and the list goes on.
This film is basically trying to show how detrimental money and profit is in today’s society and the examples given are pretty strong. It makes the viewer think about what big and powerful individuals and companies are doing to the very world they live in and how unfair it is. Though in this case the finger is not simply pointed at some dictator or a corrupt government in the third world, but rather educated individuals and wealthy international organizations. At this point no explanation as to why the problems are there in the first place. This leads us nicely into the last part of the film.
The last part of the film it goes on to talk about the where these problems come from and how we can solve them. An industrial designer by the name of Jacque Fresco is presented talking about human nature/human nurture and how the environment has to change in order to change people’s behaviour. Having a society which reinforces greed and corruption will inevitably produce war and poverty. He talks about how technology has helped humanity move away from a world of scarcity to a better and more abundant world. But he also talks about how the way we live now is not sustainable and how the monetary system itself is causing these problems.
I find this part most inspiring. This is because you can see a person who has for the past 70 years tried to solve the world’s major issues by using technology and science. His idea is to simply use the scientific method to solve social problems, this means using our current technology to re-design society into something much more efficient and sustainable. As an engineering student I can’t help but to think about what we could do to solve society’s problems if money were not an issue. I also find that his views regarding how human beings are products of their environment is very similar to what I read in Richard Dawkin’s book about evolution (called “The Greatest Show on Earth”).
Ok, so the two of you that have read this far can now finally read the review of Zeitgeist: Moving Forward. This film actually came out only a few days ago (26th of January) and it’s now based on less of the “complaining” of how society is and more on the solutions to the problems we have today.
Part 1: Human Nature
It starts off interviewing quite a few respected academics that talk about human nature versus human nurture. I must say that what they were talking about was very interesting and seemed to really dig deep into our society’s issues. It also featured Jacque Fresco who had formed his opinions during the great depression of the 1920’s. They went through themes such as addiction, violence, obesity and more.
Part 2: Social Pathology
This part starts us off with how money, labour and property are formed in our current system. It also puts into question whether we even need property and what we actually use things for (do we need to have things all the time, or do we just need access to things?) It also digs into the inequality caused by our financial system today and shows recent research done that shows a trend in a society’s health going down as inequality increases. It then goes on to say that money will eventually become worthless as inflation turns into hyper inflation as we continue with this economic system.
Part 3: Project Earth
This part starts us off with a train of thought that takes us through a hypothetical earth, exactly the same as ours, but with no humans evolved. The film then goes through what is best described as a complete redesign of our society to update it to current technology with sustainability and maximum efficiency in mind. It goes through how we could design transport (based on current technology), through to food production and distribution. Many of these ideas are presented as shown by the organization that Jacque Fresco has established called The Venus Project. Personally I find that most of the idea’s that are presented are really not that hard to implement and as Mr. Fresco has stated quite a few times.
It seems like the biggest problems that we have are not actually technological at this point, but rather cultural. If most people understood what we could actually do with our technology today they would probably be shocked as to how inefficient and unsustainable we are compared to what we can be.
Part 4: Rise
The last part of the film shows how we currently live in a world where the top 1% of the world population owns 40% of the world’s wealth. Oil is running out whether we like it or not , we have climate change and overpopulation to handle as well as a long list of extinctions and increasing poverty. As the film goes through these things it ends with another hypothetical scenario where protestors are standing in times square NYC in the middle of a global recession. In the end the economic system collapses while people withdraw all their money and pile it up outside the banks.
In the final scene we see a technologically advanced school in the future where children are looking at an old dollar bill and at the pictures of the pile’s of money at the doors of the banks. It finally ends by asking people to join the zeitgeist movement.
The Zeitgeist Movies has had millions of views online. Zeitgeist: Moving forward has had 340 screenings in over 60 countries and in over 30 languages. It reached more than a million views in 4 days. It is definitely a modern phenomenon and has spread like wildfire over the internet. It does have some “controversial” aspects and of course I personally do not agree with everything being stated in the films. Though for the people that do call it a “conspiracy”, “communism” or “socialism” really need to watch the films first, read about what these words actually mean and stop labelling anything they see different so that they can put it into a category. These films do not advocate a utopia, but simply propose a fresh new way of doing things. Yes, some of the things stated will upset people and may seem very difficult to put into practice, though I must say, from what we have seen throughout history, things that seemed impossible at first are now widely accepted.
These films are first and foremost here to make people think and try to solve the world’s major issues, and they do this in a very interesting and scientifically plausible way. I personally support it and believe that if anyone do believe that all idea’s presented are complete nonsense I hope they can back up their statements and propose another way of solving the world’s major problems.
The Film Series: http://www.zeitgeistmovie.com/
The movement’s website: http://thezeitgeistmovement.com/
News report regarding 9/11: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ssuAMNas1us
Interview with Jacque Fresco on Larry King  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCH0BQ2nSMo:
Debunking of Zeitgeist movies: http://conspiracyscience.com/articles/zeitgeist/