Titicut Follies - 50th Anniversary
TITICUT FOLLIES is a stark and graphic portrayal of the conditions that existed at the State Prison for the Criminally Insane at Bridgewater, Massachusetts. The film documents the various ways the inmates were treated by the guards, social workers and psychiatrists. Producer, Director, & Editor: Frederick Wiseman. 1967 / USA / 84 Minutes / DCP. TITICUT FOLLIES was the beginning of the documentary career of Fred Wiseman, a Boston-born lawyer turned filmmaker. In 1968 the Massachusetts Superior Court ordered the film to be recalled from distribution and called for all copies to be destroyed, citing the state's concerns about "violations of the patients' privacy and dignity", though most agreed that the real concern was with the reputation of Massachusetts, rather than the welfare of the inmates. The ban on public screenings remained in place until 1991. It is the first known instance in the history of the American film industry that a film was banned from general distribution for reasons other than obscenity, immorality or national security. "A principled and gravely disturbing look into the void... Now, 50 years later, the film can be seen for what it was: a work of political art and moral courage." - Manohla Dargis, N.Y. Times. "A calm, cool and ultimately horrifying look at conditions in a state prison...a small, black-and-white picture, laconic, abrasive, occasionally awkward and always compelling. Its content dictates its style, which is that of honest, thoroughly committed cinema reportage.... The result is an extraordinarily candid picture of a modern Bedlam, where the horrors are composed of indifference and patronizing concern." - Vincent Canby, N.Y. Times.