07 June 2008

Saturday Night At The Flicks: "Privilege"(1967)By Peter Watkins

Well, it's Saturday night, and, even if you're not going out to the pictures, there's no reason why the pictures, or at least one of them, can't come to you.

So, am posting the trailer for, as well as a couple of scenes from, Peter Watkins' 1967 opus, "Privilege", starring Paul Jones, from the '60's Brit-Pop group Manfred Mann, and Jean Shrimpton, who, along with Twiggy, was one of the leading fashion models of that time.

Watkins started out making amateur films in Britain in the late 1950's, and by 1964, when his first film, "Culloden", a cinema-verite examination of the battle of Culloden Moor, the last battle of the second Jacobite Uprising of 1745, appeared on the BBC, he had first been an assistant director, then a director at the BBC.

His second and most famous film, "The War Game", in which Watkins used a combination of documentary interview and dramatic techniques to depict what the effects of a nuclear attack on Great Britain would be like, was actually banned by the BBC, from which it'd been made, not only from broadcast within Britain, but from world-wide television screens for twenty years after it was made, although Watkins himself was nominated for an Academy Award for the film.

"Privilege" was his third professional film, and his only major studio one, and is set in 1970 Britain, where a young pop singer, Stephen Shorter, played by Mr. Jones, who has accrued a great deal of influence among British young people, is essentially set up and used by religious and politically reactionary groups for their own ends.

The first clip from "Privilege" we'll see is the American theatrical trailer for the film, which was critically savaged in Britain, as was "The War Game", but garnered a fair amount of critical praise in the US at the time of the film's release. However, Universal Pictures only ran it in a few locations internationally, then pulled it from release, and it has seldomly been seen publicly since.

The next clip features Jones and the George Bean Group, singing "Jerusalem", a modernised(for the '60's, that is)version of the old Anglican hymn at a nationalist youth rally. Actually, Jones doesn't do any singing in this scene, but rather stands very silently on the platform in this scene.

The next clip, "Free Me", features an audio track of Mr. Jones singing one of the main songs from "Privilege", the aforementioned "Free Me", with a collection of album and other period photos providing visual accompaniment.

Sorry I don't have more in the way of scene or other clips from "Privilege" for you, but, considering just how spottily distributed the film was, and how seldomly it's been seen, or been available to the public, since its initial 1967 release, I find it extraordinary that any clips from it have surfaced on YouTube, from where I got these extracts.

Finally, here are a few links about "Privilege", its director, Peter Watkins, Paul Jones and Jean Shrimpton for you to check out, should you be so interested.

The IMDB entry for the film can be found at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0062155/, its Wikipedia entry is at here, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Privilege_%28film%29, and its entry on Mr. Watkins' own web-site is http://www.mnsi.net/~pwatkins/privilege.htm, where you can find out more about the film's back-story from its writer and director.

Peter Watkins' IMDB entry's at http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0914386/, his Wikipedia entry's here at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Watkins, his British Film Institute's web-site page entry is http://www.screenonline.org.uk/people/id/454916/, and, finally, Watkins' web-site address is http://www.mnsi.net/~pwatkins/.

You can find out more about his films, their availability, or lack thereof, in various regions of the world, and about his critique of what Watkins calls "The Monoform", which is the traditional narrative form of cinema and television story-telling, and which he attacks as being hierarchical, un-democratic in its form and relationship between producer and consumer, and engendering political and social passivity in its viewers.

Paul Jones's biography, filmography and television appearances can be found on his IMDB entry at http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0428990/, while Jean Shrimpton's IMDB entry's at http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0795398/.

In closing, am going to post a quartet of YouTube videos of a video talk given by Peter Watkins, intended for French viewers of his 1999 effort, "La Commune", about the Paris Commune of 1871, at a Soviet-era-themed park south of Vilnius, Lithuania in 2001.

While "Privilege" isn't mentioned in the talk, most of which is about his critique of "The Monoform", and some of which is about "La Commune", am posting these here, so you can get a better idea out of Mr. Watkins' own mouth about "The Monoform" and its effects on audiences, and to see where he's coming from for yourselves in a way that's direct and far better than any description of these ideas I could contrive.

Check these out, please, and, whether you agree or disagree with him on these issues, I hope you'll find his ideas at least somewhat intellectually stimulating.

Those videos will follow immediately below this.

In the meantime, be seeing you.

Part One:

Part Two:

Part Three:

Part Four:


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post. Saw the film several years ago & it has really stuck with me. You might be interested to know that Privilege is finally going to be re-released on DVD and available for pre-order on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0018SNYQK

figurepornography said...

You're quite welcome, and thanks for the comment!!!

Read about Privilege's re-release on Amazon on Peter Watkins' site while "researching" my post on Saturday.

Will have to go there, and check it out.

Thanks for the news, and stop by again anytime.

Maddy said...

Well now I feel completely ancient!

figurepornography said...

No need for you to feel ancient, Maddy. That's not what this is about, though I can well understand wondering where the Hell the time went, eh???

Thanks for commenting here, and come on by again sometime.