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Titicut Follies

Screening on Film
Directed by Frederick Wiseman.
US, 1967, DCP, black & white, 84 min.
DCP source: Zipporah Films

Still his most infamous work, Wiseman’s first film was banned until 1989 from being screened except under extremely limited educational conditions. Capturing the cruel environment of the State Prison for the Criminally Insane in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, this film—shot by ethnographic filmmaker John Marshall—may also be Wiseman’s most expressionistic and surreal. Evoking the grotesque beauty and existential comedy of the Theatre of the Absurd, the shock is that these are the inimitable follies of real people in a real place. Here, the cartoonishly inept psychiatrist makes less sense than his schizophrenic patient and, at times, the good-natured guard appears more like an inmate than his captive audience.  On this stark stage, humanity seems stripped down to its brutal, illogical, and extraordinary edges.

Part of program

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2018 Norton Lectures in Cinema:
Frederick Wiseman

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Cinéma Vérité

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Uncensored: Selections from the Grove Press Collection

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Frederick Wiseman, Institution U.S.A.

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Devour the Land: Cinema, landscape, history.