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Posted on on May 14th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

I just returned from the Vienna Topkino and found this film to be obligatory viewing for those that want to see progress at RIO+20.

Both – the film and its Director – Cosima Dannoritzer who resides now in Berlin and Barcelona – were extremely enlightening helped further by the Head of the Vienna UN Information Service, Janos Tisovszky, and Greenpeace campaigner on Consumer items – Claudia Sprinz, and about 50 members of a very lively audience.

The movie starts with the conspiracy that involved Phillips, Osram, and General Electric – the Phoebus Cartel documented in 1929 and eventually undone in US courts only in 1953 – that led to incandescent bulbs to last only 1000 hours, while in a firehouse in New Jersey about 800 people came to celebrate the birthday of a bulb that reached 100 years of continuous use. That bulb was a remnant of pre-conspiracy production.

With above introduction, the movie takes us to see how today’s corporate world leads us to squander resources by handing us products that are not intended to stay with us for a long time – and then the industry is not prepared to pick up the old products that include many valuable resources – instead these become objects that pollute – and the further indignity is that they end up in Ghana in Africa, destroying the environment there.

Mountains are literally moved to come up with the elements used in today’s electronics, while those elements could be mined from the scrap of these products. Then why are these rejected TV’s not repaired, why do they get exported as second hand to Ghana and do havoc there? Anyway – these are just a few points and we will revisit this very impressive movie that shows today’s business world in all its inglorious nudity.

Once upon a time ….. products were made to last. Then, at the beginning of the 1920s, a group of businessmen were struck by the following insight: ‘A product that refuses to wear out is a tragedy of business’ (1928). Thus Planned Obsolescence was born. Shortly after, the first worldwide cartel was set up expressly to reduce the life span of the incandescent light bulb, a symbol for innovation and bright new ideas, and the first official victim of Planned Obsolescence.

“Ciné-ONU Vienna” is part of a Europe-wide initiative of regular film screenings of UN related topics followed by podium discussions with invited guests who were part of the film making process or are experts in the topic covered by the film. The United Nations Information Service (UNIS) Vienna is honoured to have “Ciné-ONU Vienna” partner with this human world (THW) film festival and Topkino for the regular film screenings in Vienna. For further information visit:

Date / Time: 14 May 2012, 18:30 hrs

Location: Topkino, Rahlgasse 1, 1060 Wien

Participants of the panel discussion (to be held in English):

Cosima Dannoritzer – Film Director

Claudia Sprinz – Consumer Campaigner -GREENPEACE in Central – and Eastern Europe

Janos Tisovszky – Director / United Nations Information Service (UNIS) Vienna (Moderation)


The following two photos by   Marc Martinez Sarrado / Media 3.14)  show us this documentary in a nut-shell.

It is from the incandescent bulbs cartel that was established to undo good products in order to continue production at the plant and release to the environment more and more garbage – to the land covered garbage as we see here in Ghana – a dumping ground to refuse from so called developed countries.

From having caused the demise of the good bulb:

to creating ecological disasters out there:

Cosima Dannoritzer is a director specialising in history, ecology and science who has made films for broadcasters in the U.K., Germany and Spain.

Her CV includes“Rebuilding Berlin”, which she directed and co-produced for the Channel 4 science slot “Equinox”, “The Duel” which she produced for Channel 4 History (nominated for a BBC Indie Award) and the BBC series “Germany Inside Out.”

Her documentary “If Rubbish Could Speak” (“El que la brossa ens diu”, TVE Spain) presents a portrait of the city of Barcelona via its rubbish containers. What would the archaeologists be able to learn from the rubbish we discard every day? The film has won several awards and was screened widely at international environmental film festivals.

“Electronic Amnesia” (“L’amnèsia electrònica”, TVE Spain) offers a reflection about our personal memories and the fact that most of them are increasingly stored in electronic form, using formats which are rapidly becoming obsolete. Will we leave any memories for future generations, or will they inherit stacks of illegible disks, tapes and documents?

With THE LIGHT BULB CONSPIRACY, Cosima Dannoritzer continues to explore the themes of sustainability and our relationship with modern technology.Planned Obsolescence is the deliberate shortening of product life spans to guarantee consumer demand. As an influential advertising magazine stated in the 1920s: ‘The article that refuses to wear out is a tragedy of business’ – and a tragedy for the modern growth society which relies on an ever-accelerating cycle of production, consumption and throwing away.

The story starts in the 1920s when a secret cartel was set up to limit the life span of the incandescent bulb, converting the light bulb into the first victim of Planned Obsolescence and turning it from a symbol of progress and innovation into a model for designers and entrepreneurs aiming to increase profits and sales at all cost. Ever since then, Planned Obsolescence has been the basis of our economy, affecting the life spans of products as diverse as nylon tights, cars and cutting edge electronics.

The result of three years of painstaking research, THE LIGHT BULB CONSPIRACY travels to the US, Germany, France, Spain and Ghana, and uses rare archive material and hitherto unseen internal company documents to separate fact from urban legend. It shows the terrible environmental consequences of Planned Obsolescence – like the immense cemeteries for electronic waste, which have appeared in countries such as Ghana – and presents a number of hands-on ideas from thinkers, designers, businessmen, as well as rebellious consumers, all working on saving the modern economy and the planet.

Press kit ENG.pdf Press kit ENG.pdf
1889K   View Download

the link on to the film pageof the Light Bulb Conspiracy:
We love to post  these links because we feel that people with a feel for these issues, as presented in this film and in the Slovak series of shorts at the UN compound in Vienna, can be further energised when watching these true facts.
The only problem with these UNIS showings is that the public at large has no access to them – this like in the case of them being shown inside the UN compound, or not having enough adverisement if done at TopKino. in this last case, the material that was available in the cinema did not include this special showing. Perhaps it could be arranged for a longer and better covered showing in the future.

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