Titicut Follies (1967)

Action, Documentary

I saw "Titicut Follies" over seventeen years ago. Thus, what I write is from fading memory. I can't remember all the details. I only wish I could forget about the details I do remember. I'll never shake the indelible anguish I was left with.I saw it once. I never want to see it again.Plot? There IS no plot. Scenes are beyond graphic.This documentary represents the antitheses of Hollywood "airbrushing."For as much as Hollywood values implausible shock, this shock is synthesized, and it will always pale in comparison to the jarring reality of Titicut Follies. Joan Miró, himself, on his best surrealistic day, from the abyss of his blackest subconscious, could not have captured the cruel absurdity these patients / inmates experienced. Cast in stark black and white, one is reminded of the daily austerity the inmates were faced with every day at the Massachusetts Institution for the Criminally Insane at Bridgewater.Humanity? There IS no humanity. The title of the film is eponymously borrowed from the name of the annual talent show in which the inmates participated, perhaps the only scintilla of happiness they had ever known.Compassion? The documentary is rife with ridicule, while cruelty REPLACES compassion.Massachusetts state government presumably went to extremes to censor this film. It was an embarrassment for bureaucrats and pundits alike. It was therefore banned from public viewing for twenty-five years. To this day, the costs of buying / renting this film are prohibitive.Out of misery comes reform. Because of the genius of director Frederick Wiseman, state government was forced to take an honest inventory of the way it treats its wards, not only in Massachusetts, but also across the country. Reform did come, albeit slowly.I'll spare the reader what graphic details I do recall. Suffice it to say that this documentary will alter the viewer's life in some small but significant way ... forever. Even the most hardened and jaded viewer will know empathy after watching it.
  • 1967-09-28 Released:
  • N/A DVD Release:
  • N/A Box office:
  • N/A Writer:
  • Frederick Wiseman Director:
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