To the Brink of Eternity


Adam Curtis sheds an interesting light on the post-WWII period, overshadowed by both science and fear. With the Cold War raging, the Soviet Union shocked the world by launching its first satellite. In reaction to that event, American scientists formulated the so called Game Theory; an applied mathematical model which attempts to predict the behavior and capabilities of rational actors in uncertain situations. This theory had a significant impact on the progression of the Cold War, but a rational and controlable world turned out to be an illusion.

Historic Relevance
The arms race was a critical element of the Cold War, a forty year long conflict marked by displays of military might, ideological opposition and sky-high defense budgets. Young American scientists at the RAND Corporation theorized that the Game Theory would allow the United States to gain the upper hand. Their scientific approach became increasingly influential in the 1960s. President Johnson's social reforms, as well as the progression of the Vietnam War, were impacted by rational-scientific thought.

Political Relevance
Scientific thought had considerable influence on American politics during the Cold War. Though the Cuban Missile Crisis was evidence that fear could triumph over rational thinking, John F. Kennedy remained convinced that scientific thought was the key to solving the problems of the modern industrial world. According to producer Adam Curtis, Game Theory was increasingly used to increase the power and influence of some politicians.

About the producer
The British producer, director and documentary maker Adam Curtis has a formidable reputation. According to The Observer, much of Curtis' work is directed at political elites and the negative consequences of the ideology they tried to turn into policy. He has won numerous prizes for his film and television work, including the BAFTA Award for Best Factual Series for Pandora's Box, the series that includes To the Brink of Eternity.


Fear of Soviet Union
When the Soviet Union launches its first satellite in 1957 the United States are shocked and confronted with a challenge. For the Americans now begin to realize that the Russians aren't that backward after all and that they are capable to launch missiles. American scientists and politicians consider the possibilities to defend the country against this new weapon.