Feb. 12, 2011


by Bill Stamets

‘Zeitgeist: Moving Forward’ ★★1/2

Money is the root of evil, according to the Book of Timothy in the New Testament; burning it will heal the planet, argues the intriguing documentary “Zeitgeist: Moving Forward.” This is the third in a series of “Zeitgeist” films for director-producer-writer-cinematographer-composer-editor and narrator Peter Joseph, who goes only by his first and middle names. In this installment, he attacks the international monetary system and promotes a sustainable utopia.

Peter Joseph opened his earlier “Zeitgeist: The Movie” (2007) and “Zeitgeist: Addendum” (2008) with lines from Tibetan and Indian philosophers, respectively. Austrian communist Ernest Fischer, author of The Necessity of Art: A Marxist Approach, supplies the epigraph for “Zeitgeist: Moving Forward”: “Art must show the world as changeable. And help to change it.”

After circuituous discussions of human genetics, violence, addiction, currency, inflation and oil, the lengthy film gets around to changing the world using “the scientific method applied to human concerns.”

Social engineer and industrial designer Jacque Fresco plugs his Venus Project, in which he envisions a “cybernated society” of circular cities where “computers could replace the outmoded system of electing politicians.” Satellite-steered, collectively owned cars will eliminate traffic fatalities, he forecasts.

Peter Joseph’s most imaginative leap comes at the end when he dramatizes a scenario for peaceful revolt: citizens of Earth see the light and toss all their cash into fires outside banks. Although the first two “Zeitgeist” films spawned a grass-roots movement (the Illinois chapter is hosting the Chicago screenings) this tactic is not prescribed for offscreen activists.

At times, Peter Jospeh skirts with esoterica. Never as kooky as “visionaries” Lyndon LaRouche and L. Ron Hubbard, he nonetheless partakes in science worship, sci-fi mind-slavery metaphors, and a global banking obsessions. His films draw upon such disparate books as The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold, The Cancer Stage of Capitalism, The Coming Oil Crisis, and Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.

Economists, including the late University of Chicago seer Milton Friedman, are the big bad guys here. Their theories are based on the lie of “infinite resources.” The provocative “Zeitgeist: Moving Forward” advocates instead a “resource-based” society, rescaled under the “dictatorship” of nature.

No MPAA rating. Running time: 166 minutes. Screening at 1 and 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; at 7 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Jan. 21; 1 and 5 p.m. Jan. 22-23, and 7 p.m. Jan. 24 at MultiKulti, 1000 N. Milwaukee. $6 donation.

Bill Stamets is a Chicago-based free-lance writer and critic.