The Trap: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom is 2007 BBC documentary series made by challenging and thought provoking English filmmaker Adam Curtis, who has been celebrated for this as well as his other documentaries including The Century of the Self and The Power of Nightmares.
Three engrossing one-hour programmes explore the concept and definition of freedom, specifically, “how a simplistic model of human beings as self-seeking, almost robotic, creatures led to today’s idea of freedom.”
Part 1: “F** k You Buddy”
Curtis examines the rise of game theory during the Cold War and the way in which its mathematical models of human behaviour filtered into economic thought. Particular reference is made to the work of John Nash, who believed that all humans were inherently suspicious and selfish creatures that strategised constantly.
Part 2: “The Lonely Robot”
Curtis examines whether drugs such as Prozac and lists of psychological symptoms which might indicate anxiety or depression were being used to normalise behaviour and make humans behave more predictably, more like machines.
The Trap: What Happened to Our Dreams of Freedom 4/6
Part 3: “We Will Force You To Be Free”
The final programme focusses on the concepts of positive and negative liberty introduced in the 1950s by Isaiah Berlin. Curtis explains how negative liberty could be defined as freedom from coercion and positive liberty as the opportunity to strive to fulfill one’s potential. Curtis goes on to explain how many political groups who sought their vision of freedom ended up using violence to achieve it.