British television documentary maker Adam Curtis uses his BBC blog to reveal research on the troubled history of Afghanistan, and in particular its changing relationship with the West. The story, as he says, is 'very complex, and sometimes weird'.
Starting point is 1971, and four separate events in and around Kabul, the Afghan capital, that both referred to the past, and presaged the future. While the BBC filmed a documentary on the disastrous British retreat from Kabul in 1841, students took part in ever-more violent demonstrations at Kabul University.
The Soviets, meanwhile, had their own ideas of how to spread their influence in the country, introducing students to Lenin and Marx. Before long, Islamists were clashing with Leninist students. While Kabul welcomed its first supermarket, in the same building, Italian artist Alighiero e Boetti brought a taste of the artistic avant-garde to the city.
Using archive material from the BBC, Curtis pieces together the fascinating story of a country on the brink.
'The resistance with which Afghans oppose our civilisation has always
amazed me.' Alighiero e Boetti
1970's Afghanistan: Twelve-year-old Amir is desperate to win the local kite-fighting tournament and his loyal friend Hassan promises to help him. After the Russians invade and the family is forced to flee to America, Amir realises that one day he must return to an Afghanistan under Taliban rule to find the one thing hat his new world cannot grant him: redemption