A few weeks ago British filmmaker Adam Curtis responded to the death of Margaret Thatcher by uploading The Attic, his 1995 TV movie about her, to his BBC-sponsored blog. “I’m putting it up as a bit of a corrective to the terrifying wonk-fest that took over after Mrs. Thatcher died,” Curtis wrote in a new postscript. “A conveyor belt of Think Tank pundits and allied operatives poured into the TV studios and together they built a fortress around Mrs. Thatcher’s memory that was rooted in theories about economics.”
Like all of Curtis’s work, it would be imprecise to call The Attic a documentary—or even a political film. The characteristically dense collage draws from vintage newsreels and fiction films as well as contemporary interviews and TV footage. Curtis’s realm isn’t political reality but rather the signs among us (to borrow a chapter title from Jean-Luc Godard’s Histoire(s) du cinéma, which Curtis’s movies often resemble). And so The Attic isn’t a critique of Thatcher, per se, but a consideration of the myth she created around herself.