In hindsight, Men’s Madness, (described by the Guardian in 1991 as ‘an outlandish essay in technophobia’) seems remarkably perceptive as the relentless assault on the natural world continues. Assertions in the film, about the drives of those who force the techno-machine forwards, made it controversial at the time – but not any more.
Made almost 30 years ago Men’s Madness used documentary footage from TV, mixed with location footage from the London Underground. The underground journeys are seen as a metaphor for progress as the film journeys through various ‘worlds’ constructed from TV documentaries. Industrial production, the military, genetics, space technology, religion, artificial intelligence and robotics are the isolated worlds which are linked to show the pattern of obsession and irrationality responsible for the systematic dismantling of the natural world.
They make it possible to discuss technophilia, militarization, surveillance and the human propensity to expand – even to other worlds.
The film was commissioned and Broadcast by Channel Four in 1991. It was made before we had access to computers. Consequentially, it took five years to record the documentaries from TV, assemble and edit each world and re-film from monitors in the studio using back projections when needed. The underground footage, used to transport the viewer to each world, was shot in several stations and was then edited and manipulated over another 6 months.
Described also as a ‘poetical polemic’ Men’s Madness was pick of the day and pick of the week in all the newspapers.