Zeitgeist ist "time ghost" auf Deutsch, ja!

Controversial movie needs a critical eye in order to be understood

Publication YearIssue Date 

On Sat., Mar. 15th, all over the world people will sit down and watch Zeitgeist: the Movie as part of a worldwide day of activism called Z-Day. The free online film has taken the Internet by storm with it's compellingly edited footage and seemingly obvious message about religion, the 9/11 attacks and the perils and pitfalls of blindly following authority as exemplified by the discussion of the gold standard and the tax code system. While it presents itself with the trappings of a documentary, it is, in fact, a comprehensive collection of memes spread around the right-wing conspiracy theory community gussied up with shocking footage and a tacked-on, feel-good ending that belies the preceding, two-hour shake-up.

On Facebook, nearly 41,000 people have joined the group Zeitgeist: The Documentary of a Lifetime.

Whenever someone criticizes it, the collective Internet furor will often leave the article's comments filled with over nine thousand replies decrying the professionalism, lack of research or how the author spends his time nitpicking the sources and not enough criticizing the ideas. There are nearly 700 public showings of Zeitgeist scheduled for Mar. 15 (688 at the time of this writing), with more than 1100 other private showings. This film is a true phenomenon.

There's an irony, though. For a film that tries so hard to tell the viewer to think about what they experience in the world and to reject authority, many people have blindly followed the documentary without doing their own research. This is why, more than anything, a hard look at the ideas of the film is needed.

A moment should be spent at the online home of Zeitgeist itself. While it would come across as tinfoil hat paranoia, there's been an interesting development on the website. As of Mar. 11 2008, a small subsection of the website has been completely scrubbed from the site. This section, the "clarifications" section, alludes to dishonest filmmaking tactics that would otherwise help to discredit the film. Instead, a self-righteous Q&A section that attempts to smack down its critics has replaced it. Thanks to the wonders of Archive.org and its Wayback Machine, though, anyone can read the clarifications with just a few meandering clicks!

Why is this important? The closer it comes to Z-Day, the more willing they are to gloss over inconvenient facts. For instance, video footage from the Madrid bombings of 2004 is used during a discussion of the London bombings of 2005, the implication being that the footage is from the actual bombings in London. It's deceptive filmmaking pure and simple and no manner of self-righteous explanation can disregard the simple fact: it's an out and out lie, "creative example" be damned. For a film that rails against deception, there's a lot of deception implicit in its creation.

There isn't a degree of self-righteousness to the film, as in any film that tries to use activism to get its message across. It starts off with a two-minute montage of bombings set to thunderously loud and ponderous music to set the mood of chaos, alternating with a quiet and sombre score to show human life and creativity. Then, the thematic image takes to the screen: the world in a cage. Despite the heavy-handedness of the metaphor, that's what the film is trying to show: through religion, the American government's lies or outright complicity in the 9/11 attacks, other "false flag" attacks and the economy that's run by an elitist caste of bankers, we're being controlled and are trapped in a cage that prevents us from being free.

The film first discusses religion. It takes the tack of using an historical Jesus argument and tries to tie it in with Horus, Buddha, and other religious figures with the common thread of a "sun god." While there are similarities, the way the film presents the relation is too straightforward. This is the common problem in the film: presenting something in such a shallow manner without further corroboration or scholarly evidence. It distils years of advanced scholarly work into a pithy little comparison and doesn't explore the examples, the greater historical contexts and the complicated realities into something approaching "Horus and Jesus come from the same place." In the world of a spectrum of greys, the film argues everything in black-and-white, which isn't surprising when the second part of the film hits the screen.

To briefly touch on the second section, if one reads the sources and the way it's been described previous to the website's scrubbing, the second section is actually an amalgamation of many different 9/11 Truth Movement films like Loose Change and the Alex Jones Prison Planet series. This circular method of research means that someone can't even find the source of the claims in this section. It's infuriating and prevents any kind of real discussion about the credibility of the original source material.

As the film transitions into its third part, a John F. Kennedy quotation about secret societies comes on screen. The statement, in context with the film, is ostensibly about the banker clans that are controlling the economy. Anyone who actually knows where the quotation is from, though, would understand that the quote is actually from a speech JFK gave on communism. More deceptive filmmaking at work!

The third part is the culmination of the previous two thematic devices: the amalgamation of the infamous "Seven Jew bankers control the world" meme and the "I don't have to pay my taxes in America!" idea that has surfaced in right-wing militia subculture with such force. Conspiracy theory buffs will understand that while thankfully Zeitgeist doesn't identify any Jews as bankers--instead focusing on men like Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan--the idea that bankers are controlling the world has been around since the 1880s. It's old hat, but gussied up with a fresh coat of paint with quotes that seemingly have no sources to them outside of a list of books.

It's hard to reject or agree with the film when it comes to sources, as it's just a list. There's no contextualization within the sources for the quotations. Outside of the first part's interactive transcript with footnotes, the site and its ostensible administrator just put a list of quotes on the page and expect the person to do the research and find the sources. This isn't useful at all and only makes it harder to believe the film when a sterner look is given to its sources. Given the circular nature of many of the sources, when one firmly begins to research the film, it's hard for any but the most ardent conspiracy nut to believe any of it.

It's okay to like Zeitgeist. It's well-edited and is truly compelling. To use it as a piece of activism, like the idea of Z-Day, however, is unfortunate. There are points about war and religion that are important to note, but they're lost in the greater frothing-at-the-mouth conspiracies. Like the film argues for so firmly: if you're about to watch Zeitgeist, please don't take it at face value. Use your noodle and think!




The remastered edition, presumably the one being shown on March 15th, corrected a number of errors from the original version, including added subtitling of the Madrid bombing footage as "Madrid, 2004". Perhaps the clarifications page was taken down because it was out of date -- did Marcellus contact the site to ask about it? Has Marcellus even seen the remastered film supposedly being reviewed?

In before the Zeitgeist hordes hit: My real problem with this film is the lack of subtitles and no closed captioning. And the Zeitgesit's makers being unwilling to add subtitles for hard of hearing people and people who speak other languages.

Every times I complain about the lack of closed captioning, many Zeitgeist fans, even the zealous ones who defend the film against the critics, says nothing about the lack of subtitles.

Come on, if you want to spread the truth and if Zeitgeist "got it right about the world", it should not be too difficult to include some kind of closed captioning so deaf people can understand the "truth"!

Where to begin. Marcellus, my friend, Did you base a lot of your arguements soley on the Clarifications page? One of the comments that leads me to this conclusion is "Anyone who actually knows where the quotation is from, though, would understand that the quote is actually from a speech JFK gave on communism." Tisk tisk. It was an address to the American Newspaper Publishers Association on April 27th, 1961. It is about his feelings on the nature of the relationship between his administration and the press, and the duties and responsibilities of both, with great emphasis on honesty. Communism and secret sociaties are both mentioned in the speech, but it is so very clearly not a speech on Communism. Major Error on your part. These comments seem highly contradictory 1"many people have blindly followed the documentary without doing their own research" and 2 "just put a list of quotes on the page and expect the person to do the research and find the sources" Are you saying you are too lazy or uninterested to do the research, but Are willing to give a very uninformed critique? Lastly "the idea that bankers are controlling the world has been around since the 1880s. It's old hat, but gussied up with a fresh coat of paint with quotes that seemingly have no sources to them outside of a list of books." Really. Newspaper articles, company holdings and financial records, documented statements from presidents, senators, and Rockefeller's and Bush's themselves, ect. do not ring any bells at all? I understand if you were tired, under a deadline, or just didn't really care, but please present your opinion as such. And please keep in mind how many of the hypnotised masses had never heard of most or all of this. As far as more research and references being actually included in the film, how many people would watch an 8hr+ documentary? Even the Jesus/Horus section alone could easily be a minimum of 3 hrs, Gerald Massey's lectures and books alone are quite a long read, and that's just a smidgen. I don't mean to be offensive at all. If you knocked on my door, I'd offer you a choice of beverages, a snack, and we'd both be talking as old friends in no time at all. Always be as responsible as you possibly can, my sincere very best wishes to you my friend.

I just watched the movie and was interested to see if there was any media responses. None really.

In response to Crazydan, I noticed on the Zeitgeist web site they do promise subtitles to be coming soon in a variety of languages. Check it out.

One last point is that what little coverage I have seen has been scornful and dismissive of people who have watched the movie as foolish or like lemmings. This has been used to successfully blunt the needed impetus of the climate change movement. I realize it being scornful and sneering allows yourself to feel superior but the reality is it is harmful to encouraging people to sort out ideas for themselves. I think we can all agree that the Zeitgeist movie raise issues which like climate change need to out their in the public realm of discussion, not dismission.

Laugh and think today.

The movie itself is "harmful to encouraging people to sort out ideas for themselves" because it "raise[s] issues ... like climate change" in only the inflammatory way instead of providing a balanced approach grounded in a defensible reality of description and plausible action.

The Scientologists get the Tom Cruise video pulled in seven-and-a-half seconds, but the "Jew bankers" who control the world can't stop the Zeitgeist truth from spreading? I think that stands as implicit proof the vid is all BS. But like folks have said, if it gets people thinking of important things like climate change it can't be all bad. However, as Jordyn said, a lot of people who watch this just aren't thinking, and that can be bad. Very very bad.

To Daniel Quinn: they don't have the right to do such; therefore, it is simply denounced as a myth or a conspiracy theory. they've also let the 9/11 commission report be blown out of water which means if they were to delete it now, the believers would gain strength in numbers.

To Jordyn Marcellus: my opinion is a little biased. however, i find it odd as well that you are hypocritical on the idea of self research. it behooves me to think that such petty claims can be supported by no actual facts and still make it to the zeitgeist movie's list of criticizing works. maybe your claims would be more relevant if the arguments you had were actually arguments and not just inaccurate or deceiving, which is also hypocritical of you, statements intended to disprove facts that were compiled by people who aren't like you and actually go out and commit to their own independent research. the rest of this doesn't pertain to you by the way. =-D

i won't comment on Zha and Democritus' posts because those two seem to be optimistic in the discussion.

i am currently doing a research paper on the federal reserve and the false flag operations. it is also on the rothchild family. if i remember, i'll find this site and repost my research. =-D

some people hate it the moment after it touches on religion. others even open their minds up to interpret the video from the start.

the outcome of the video does fall 50/50 for its viewers though. you either accept the truth or deny it. i choose to accept it.

the rfid chips are being implanted in people as you read this, and whether you agree with it or not, our natural rights as defined in the constitution are being taken away with the guise of "homeland security."

Actually, the German "Zeitgeist" would translate to "Spirit of the time", but I guess the Author knows that.


The author probably does, but the then-editor of that section slept through the majority of his German 201 lectures...

At any rate, I wanted a headline that was somewhat stupid (explaining why I didn't try to find an actual translation) to contrast with the seriousness of the article.

Gentleman what you dealing with?
With peanuts and unimportant detail, actually you expressing the ego complexes.
You missing the main point, the humans controlled and brain washed by media that created a new age of consumer culture minds, we have a society of zombies that dreaming the ideals by TV and became the slaves of banking and the tax system.
I talked about this issue 3 years ago, and every body told me that I'm crazy.

The Zeitgeist is a rare chance to wake up from our zombie sleeping faze

It is amazing that the government could create a huge and highly complicated 9/11 conspiracy, but aren't crafty enough to plant one canister of nerve gas in Iraq or "discover" one piece of evidence tying Saddam to terrorism.

It is just as important NOT to find nerve gas and links between Saddam and terrorism... Iraq is not the last war to be fought. Unfinished business is all too important when it is time to mount another war effort. Avoid reducing everything to singular conflicts, and make room for other possibilities.

The speech where Kennedy speaks of a "monolithic and ruthless conspiracy" very clearly is a Cold War speech and no more. He is arguing that the media should cooperate with the government against the Cold War foe without needing any special federal authority to enforce such cooperation. Instead the media should be willingly patriotic in supporting the Cold War on its own initiative. That is all that anyone listening to the speech at the time would have heard in it. The idea that some secret elite would have regarded the speech as somehow blowing the wistle on them is especially inane. Even if one wished to postulate that somehow an inside joke was being played with the speech (though there's no reason to believe that it was anything other than a Cold War speech), it certainly would not have been revealing anything to the public. It sounds a lot like the type of speech George Bush might give, making vague references to a conspiracy to destroy western civilization with the audience led to believe that the threat is Muslim terrorism. Nothing in that Kennedy speech is any more revelatory than many similar statements of this kind made by current politicians.

you could translate "zeit + geist" as "time + ghost" into english, but this would not be correct. a much better translation that would fit is: "spirit of [the/our] time"

Part 2 has launced.