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Pandora's Box: The Engineers Plot

on BBC Two England

First of six modern fables using archive, clips from feature films, cartoons and home movies to explore the cultural impact of 20th-century science.

Producer Adam Curtis explains: "In the years following the war, people in America, Europe and the Soviet Union were captivated by the idea that science could be used to build a better world. It inspired politicians to apply the methods of science on a vast scale to try to solve the social and political problems of the age. This is a series about that grand and noble vision - and what happened to it.... The dramatic, unforeseen consequences that unfold in the films were due to the mistaken belief of those in power that scientific knowledge and its methods gave them the means to control the world."

The Russian revolutionaries who toppled the Tsar in 1917 believed science had the power to create a new world. This film reveals how the Soviet technocrats came to run the Plan, which would order their society along rational, scientific lines, and how they ended by creating a bizarre, bewildering world for millions of people. Footage includes the Magnitogorsk Choir of Industrial Progress singing of the new rational world to come; two men who planned the toothbrushes for the whole of the Soviet Union; and a planner who tells how she scientifically decided the people wanted platform shoes, only to discover that they were out of fashion by the time the factory was built.
(Teletext subtitles: page 888)
Documentaries: page 1?


Adam Curtis
Executive Producer:
Edward Mirzoeff

BBC Two England

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