Fragments from video clips, newsreels, news shows, animations, and propaganda films present humanity as an extremely murderous species in Damnatio memoriae (“condemnation of memory”). Alongside familiar scenes—the atom bomb, the Vietnam War, 9/11—we encounter all sorts of historical facts that have been swept under the carpet. There are the “forgotten” massacres in Taiwan under the post-war dictatorship, for example, and who knew that in 1958 the US devised a plan to detonate an atom bomb on the moon?
We also learn of the intriguing career of Taiwanese singer Teresa Teng (1953-1995). Her popularity was used in her home country for nationalist military propaganda, but her songs offered millions of Chinese people a moment of respite from the straitjacket of Communist rule.
After opening with Carl Sagan’s words, “There is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves,” the film casts its gaze on the darker side of history. The square format of the film itself reinforces the oppressive sense that humanity has always been gripped by an urge to destroy.