“Zeitgeist”: A Movie Review

Paul Derengowski, ThM


On March 15, 2008 the movie Zeitgeist 1 is advertised to start making its rounds in selected movie theatres, university campuses, and various other private and public settings.  For those of us who just could not wait until the release date (of course I speak facetiously), the producers of the movie have provided a website where it could be in advance.  The movie touts itself as “A World Wide Expression for Change.”  According to a statement on its website, Producer Peter Joseph created the film “to inspire people to start looking at the world from a more critical perspective and to understand that very often things are not what the population at large think they are.”  Interestingly, the statement goes on to say, “It is my hope that people will not take what is said in the film as the truth, but find out for themselves, for truth is not told, it is realized.”  Now, that all sounds fine, wonderful, and outstanding does it not?  But just exactly what is Zeitgeist about, given all the talk about change, truth, and the encouragement to critically think?  In a nutshell, it is a propaganda film created to promote humanistic and atheistic values, and has just enough truth sprinkled throughout to keep it interesting, yet mind-boggling to the unwary.

The movie itself is just under two-hours long (1:56).  It is divided into 3 Parts, with a fairly lengthy 10 minute introduction filled with one scene after another of death, destruction, and mayhem to get the viewer’s attention.  After an hour and 45 minutes, there is a final 10-minute summary and condemnation of all that was discussed previously, revolving around how religion, education, and the mass media have misled people into believing many of the things which have resulted in today’s worldwide deception being propagated by only a few very powerful people.  The movie is somewhat thought-provoking, even though too much of it is built on bad information, conspiracy theories, and ultimately inherent contradiction.

Part I is the producer’s attack upon religion, and that primarily Christianity.  In the “Greatest Story Ever Told,” Joseph attempts to paint Christ and Christianity in as bland of colors as possible, with the express hope of persuading the viewer that Christianity itself is nothing more than a rehash of a multitude of other world religions.  His favorite parallel is to equate it with the pagan Egyptian religion, where everything from the date of Jesus’ birth, to the 12 disciples, to being “born again” are, in his opinion, all taken directly from the Egyptians.  There is nothing original in Christianity itself according to Joseph.  The Bible is nothing more than an astrological tool, the cross is taken from the Signs of the Zodiac, and Jesus is nothing more than a plagiarized figure taken from the mythological Egyptian god Horus.  In fact, when Peter Joseph is done, his conclusion, in atheistic/humanistic fashion, is to deny all historical accounts of Jesus’ existence, and declare that Jesus did not exist at all.  Clearly, what Joseph is propagating is nothing short of what many of us are currently seeing in the modern atheistic ranks, and that is to keep repeating the same nonsense that others have conjured before.  Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion), Sam Harris (Letter to a Christian Nation), and Christopher Hitchens (god is not Great) are perhaps some of the more noted proponents of contemporary atheistic hostility towards Christians and Christianity.  And now it looks as if Mr. Joseph is about to join them with this piece of misguided cinema.

Part II changes from demeaning Jesus, Christians, and religion in general, to what Joseph thinks occurred on September 11, 2001, or 9-11.  He calls this part of the movie “The 9-11 Myth,” because in his mind “9-11 was an inside job.”  In 37 minutes he proceeds to go through eight different categories where the evidence behind the events of 9-11 does not point to Islamic Terrorists, but to the United States Government as culpable for everything.  And I must say, the interviews that he conducts, along with the film footage, are compelling.  For instance, when he interviews BYU Professor of Physics Dr. Steven Jones on the destruction of the World Trade Center towers, one has to wonder how it was possible for both towers, along with Tower 7, to fall in the manner that they did, given (1) they were engineered to withstand the very thing (i.e., a plane crash) that brought them down, and (2) in Tower 7’s case, it wasn’t even touched by a plane, or one of the falling towers, and yet the 47-story building came down as if it was professionally imploded.  Add to that the complete absence of plane parts at the Pentagon and Shankesville, Pennsylvania, both due to the rationale that they completely vaporized on impact because of intense heat caused by jet fuel, and for the average person, things certainly seem awry.  The rest of his “evidence” is not quite as compelling, though it remains interesting.  The bottom line is that Part II is Mr. Joseph’s attempt to paint a conspiracy theory better than others already have regarding 9-11, and in some cases he does, while in others he doesn’t.

Part III, entitled “Don’t Mind the Men Behind the Iron Curtain,” takes a stab at primarily the Federal Reserve Bank.  To Joseph it is nothing more than a central bank, which is not what the Founding Father of the United States ever envisioned for this country, simply because that was one of the reasons why America was founded in the first place: to escape the financial tyranny imposed upon it when the early settlers began to flee British rule.  He expands his thesis to include that the Federal Reserve Bank is nothing more than a private corporation that was set up by a few wealthy tyrants, starting with none other than the late John D. Rockefeller.  And because the Federal Reserve Bank is nothing more than a private corporation, no one in the Federal government has any say concerning its policies, rules, and regulations, which is absolutely true.  Instead, it sets its own policies, interest rates, and is the establisher of the Federal Income Tax, which Joseph deems as “Unconstitutional.”  In Joseph’s opinion the Federal Reserve is a huge loan organization that perpetually enslaves people in debt, given that it survives by lending out interest-accumulating funds, meaning that because of the interest involved, the country itself is to be forever indebted to the Federal Reserve.  Lastly, it is because of the Federal Reserve, and the greed of the few running its show, that the United States has continually been in one war after another, especially World War I, II, and Vietnam.  This is where Joseph’s anti-George Bush sentiments really start to come out, since be believes that the primary reason why the U. S. was involved in WWII was because George W. Bush’s grandfather, Prescott Bush, helped to precipitate the U. S. involvement in WWII, since he was a main figurehead in the Federal Reserve system, and WWII would serve his interests in helping the Federal Reserve make money off the war.  That mentality has trickled down to George W. Bush, who Joseph sees as a person currently capitalizing monetarily in the Iraq-Afghanistan wars, rather than merely fighting terrorists.

Joseph’s concluding statements are basically a rehash of what he had to say about 9-11, except he now calls it “A Pretext for War,” and compared it to Nazi rule in WWII Germany, when Adolf Hitler used similar tactics to persuade that country with his pretext for war.  Joseph, though, does bring out some interesting data concerning the North American Union, the New Currency, and “One World Government” that I think are worth consideration.  For quite some time, now, the United States people have been battling illegal immigration, particularly with those to its south, namely illegals streaming in from Mexico.  What Joseph reports, however, seems to point to dissolution of the national sovereignty of the United States, and form a conglomerate “union” between Canada, the United States, and Mexico.  Illegal immigration, and the lack-luster efforts of those in the U. S. Government to really do anything about it, is merely a prelude of that dissolution of national sovereignty.  The disconcerting part of this plan is to learn that those ultimately behind the North American Union are also behind the European Union and others.  That plan would include not only the development of “one bank, one army, and one center of power,” but a “centralized one-world economy” where everyone is implanted with an RFID chip to track their every move.  Now, before someone says, “Hey Paul, come back to planet earth and rejoin us; you’re getting just a little too far out there,” let me say that while I’m not into all of the conspiracy stuff that constantly surfaces, what Joseph is onto here is biblical, even though I’m sure he never intended it to be.  It is biblical in the sense that we know from the Bible that the day is coming where there will be both a one-world economic system and a one-world religion.  All of this talk about illegal immigration, NAFTA, and now the North American Union all seem to be pointing in those directions.  Could this film by Peter Joseph be an inadvertent foreshadow of things to come?  I don’t know, but we will see, and I think that it probably won’t be too far off in the future either.

Zeitgeist is an interesting film, although it does seem to have some credibility problems with it.  There are places in the film where the footage contains some scatological language, and that always seems to take away from what a person has to say, simply because such language is empty to begin with.  Above all, though, it is a propaganda film, intended to get people to see a particular worldview as more true than all the others.  That worldview, unfortunately, is atheistic and/or humanistic, which makes the movie’s intent hypocritical when one stops to think about it.  It is hypocritical in the sense that despite all the wrongs that it hopes to point out, when rationally thought about, atheistic humanism has nothing to contribute to the woes of humanity, and everything to contribute to its demise.  It certainly offers nothing to counter the mindsets of those it seeks to challenge, given that false religion, self-indulgent greed, and ruthless world domination by a totalitarian dictator all stem from the same faulty worldview as atheism does.

Is Zeitgeist worth viewing?  Sure, if for no other reason than to keep abreast as to what is going on among those who are enemies of Christianity, so that if they come calling, the Christian can offer a reasonable response to the charges.  Conversely, as pointed out earlier, Zeitgeist contains information that could easily trip-up a person if they are not careful.  Therefore, a word to the wise would be to watch the film, but make sure your worldview filter is working properly, lest you come away confused and unsure as to what to believe or what is true, and end up contributing to the problems of humanity, rather than acting as a beacon of light pointing out the solution.


  1. The word zeitgeist is German for “spirit of the age.”