Espionage as Entertainment
What could be more satisfying for an audience watching the very people who are the most secretive in our society? The spy character has been an icon of fictional entertainment ever since the dawn of language. For instance, take the Ancient Greek poem, The Iliad. People who have never read this epic still know how the decisive battle was played out as a secret mission using a Trojan Horse. Even Sun Tzu's ancient text The Art of War dedicates the entire final chapter to espionage. These two classics are from completely different cultures, not to mention time periods, and yet they both have those key passages about espionage that really make them memorable.
Alas, those are just examples from civilization's most ancient written texts. Even in this era of modern 3D cinemas and Lolcatmunication technology there is something about spies that makes their stories stand out. And why not? In any story about international intrigue, the soldiers are going to be predictably brave, politicians are usually cowards, civilians are probably going to be victimized, but spies are always the wild card. This has proven to be the case in the real world as well. In the absence of super powers, or epic wealth, it was spies who influenced some of the most pivotal events in human history. Perhaps the spy character captures our imaginations more than most because deep down it comforts us to know that an ordinary person can actually make a real difference in the world.
Here are the 10 best spy videos you can watch for free:
#10 - The True Story Behind "Argo" (CBC documentary)
If you've seen Argo, you have only seen a fictional political thriller based loosely on a true story. This CBC documentary tells you the real story with interviews from many of those involved. What makes this show so special is how rare it is that the general public is actually told about a successful intelligence operation, since the only operations that are usually made public are the worst failures. It is more satisfying to hear the real Tony Mendez describe his own involvement than it is to watch the manufactured drama of Argo.
#9 - 1984
Whether you read the book, watch this 1956 movie, or the more recent 1984 remake, this story introduces the most paranoid message imaginable about surveillance. These days, the rapid advance of technology is portrayed as promoting individual freedom around the world. However, much like the plots of The Matrix or The Terminator, Orwell's 1984 presents us with a much more dystopian scenario about the future, a world where all of our seductive technology has been turned against us!
#8 - Spycraft: Inside Secrets of Espionage and Surveillance
This video and the book it was based on, were popular in the late 1980's because they covered all the common technologies and techniques used in the spy industry at the time. At this point most of the information has obviously become dated. Still, it is fascinating to see how those old analogue devices were compromised, since the modern digital era is all about boring hackers and firewalls.
#7 - Les Vampires
That's right, this is the 6 1/2 hour 1915 thriller about a secret criminal organization in Paris, and the reporter who is heavily involved in unmasking these "Vampires". The criminals are not actual vampires but rather they resemble what we would call a terrorist organization in today's lingo. Even in 1915, it is amazing to see so many typical spy movie elements presented in this 10 part serial, everything from encrypted messages to secret lethal gadgets. All spy movies that have been made since 1915 have been influenced by Les Vampires.
#6 - Real World James Bond Gadgets (History TV documentary)
This TV documentary examines some of the more interesting spy gadgets that have appeared on the big screen. If you are familiar with all of the 007 films, you may be surprised which of Bond's tools were real world gadgets, and which ones were completely fictional props.
#5 - OK Connery
Of all the spy movies available for free on YouTube, none are as ridiculous as this 1967 gem starring Neil Connery and several cast members from the James Bond franchise. Yes, you guessed correctly, Neil is Sean's brother. This was actually one of several spy parody movies that Neil made over the years.
#4 - Notorious
Notorious is considered by some to be suspense master Alfred Hitchcock's greatest movie. As this is one of his least ridiculous plots, Hitchcock takes a serious look at an undercover mole in a post WWII terrorist organization. What makes this so compelling is how much the film is willing to reveal the ugly side of being undercover with a bunch of despicable criminals. Not the typical glorified action and bravado usually associated with spy movies.
#3 - Ancient Secret Agents (History Channel)
There are many videos listed here which showcase modern spy gadgets, but let's not forget the history of espionage goes all the way back to the beginning of civilization. This documentary examines some of the lesser known spy techniques and tools from the days before electronics and modern science.
#2 - Popular Mechanics for Kids
This 90's kids' TV show is a personal favorite of our staff since one episode was filmed in our original Spytech store in Toronto way back when it first opened. Customers used to bring up this episode for many years thanks to the lengthy syndication run this show enjoyed. The show seemed to be so popular, and it has such a good concept, that I've always wondered why it isn't still on the air today.
#1 - The Bourne Identity
That's right folks, The Bourne Identity movie you all saw is actually a remake! This is the original movie adaptation of the famous book series. So does the rule apply here that remakes are always inferior? Well watch this version and judge for yourself.
Note: All content shown here was available on YouTube for free at the time of this article. If any of these videos are not permitted please notify us (or YouTube for that matter) and they will be removed.
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