John Berger / Ways of Seeing , Episode 1 (1972)





This series was based on Walter Benjamin’s ideas. It begins slowly, but picks up speed – though the pace will still seem slow to us. Ostensibly, the subject is art and how we see it. In fact, it is an investigation of ideas and ideology, class and indoctrination.
In addition to the arguments Berger is making the series is interesting because, like anything viewed from the future, it has become a kind of historical document; thereby, giving us even more “ways of seeing.” How fast or slow it appears shows us something about how we see now. It shows us other things too. Aside from fashion and the technology (and budget) of the BBC, one of the many things it documents is a particular expression of second-wave feminism in England by “educated” middle and upper-class women in 1972. It’s useful to think about how we have progressed and regressed since then. It might also be useful to remember this was paid for by the state, i.e., taxpayers. All of these are ways of seeing that make this series even more interesting and complex than when it originally aired.