An Interview with Richard Brouillette (Director), Éric Morin (Original Music)
“Defeat of the Mind”—the Uncontrollable Monster of Neoliberalism
Q: Firstly, please tell us what led you to make this film.
Richard Brouillette (RB): I wanted to make a film about the state that the French philosopher Alain Finkielkraut called “the defeat of the mind.” I had in my mind Francisco Goya’s etching “The sleep of reason produces monsters.” I wanted to depict the state of modern education, which is geared increasingly towards occupational training, and also the defeat of enlightenment ideology and progressive thought. I wanted to depict the school of thought known as Neoliberalism, which took form under the rule of Thatcher and Reagan around 1982 and came to the fore through the collapse of the communist bloc, eventually becoming an uncontrollable monster. Those who were critical of it were ridiculed as anachronistic dinosaurs still clinging to the ideals of France’s May 1968 revolution. Meanwhile, traditionally left-wing political parties in western Europe were beginning to learn from the right. I decided to make this film in order to expose this intellectual hegemony, which subjugates nations even to this day, and to uncover the mechanism behind it.
Moving on to the topic of the film’s format, I attempted to present something different to the “tasteful” filmmaking style that entails creating montages of brief shots around 30 seconds long and inserting archive footage in between. This was partly influenced by the backlash against Wintonick and Achbar’s Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media. Chomsky engages in richly insightful philosophical study of issues involving the media, but his statements were mostly edited down to 30-second bites. Normally this wouldn’t be the sort of thing you could cut even if he went on for five or 10 minutes. And that in itself is exactly the sort of thing that Chomsky is denouncing. For this film especially, I felt that I should aim for a perfect match of form and content, hence I wanted to let the scholars speak for as long as possible. Fortunately, the people who agreed to be interviewed were all eloquent speakers who could grab viewers’ attention. For example, Omar Aktouf talks continuously for nine minutes and two seconds. Normally, that kind of thing would never happen in a documentary.
Q: Was everyone who appeared in the film happy with that?
RB: Not everyone. Especially those who are right-wing. However, I always treated them with respect, and I tried to adhere to that in terms of documentary ethics. I was careful not to show them as comical figures or manipulate their words through editing. I made it so viewers could judge those people’s ideas through their own observation.
Q: You do use the word “ensnare” in the title.
RB: The word “ensnare” in the title is a translation of the French word “rets.” It can also mean a net, or a network. It alludes to the ‘trap’ of the international network of neoliberalism, and its ‘trap’ for democracy.
Éric Morin (EM): The music was composed so that it would gradually shift from harmony to atonality.
RB: Neoliberalism gradually tightens its grip and finally heads toward war, and the music follows that motion by gradually shifting toward atonality.
EM: When I listened to the music at the screening, I realized that it in fact had a lot in common with Japan.
(Compiled by Abe Koji)
Interviewers: Abe Koji, Isom Winton / Translator: Don Brown
Photography: Laura Turley / Video: Suzuki Hiroki / 2009-10-12