The film is a stark and graphic portrayal of the conditions that existed at the State Prison for the Criminally Insane at Bridgewater, Massachusetts. Titicut Follies documents the various ways the inmates are treated by the guards, social workers and psychiatrists.
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Wiseman's debut took us behind the walls of a state prison for the criminally insane in Bridgewater, Massachusetts and exposed the cruelty, mistreatment and taunting of those supposed to be getting therapy. Famously banned from public exhibition for over 25 years the film has lost none of its incendiary power. A difficult watch that one wonders how the filmmakers were allowed to film in the first place. Essential.
An absolutely terrifying film. Wiseman's approach to this subject matter was absolutely incredible. Had me cringing and wincing multiple times throughout the film. One of the best documentaries I've ever seen.
A voyage into madness guided by the perverted look of Frederick Wiseman (see the musical numbers of "The Titicut Follies", a vaudeville-like group constituted by the monstruous guards of the madhouse in question) is, despite its various qualities, still too ambiguous to produce a strong and lasting "meaning". The lack of a protagonist and the varitety of the information also draw the spectator back.
Yeah, if I saw this during the late 60s, I would have throw bricks threw windows. We all know how institutions breed corruption but what was so profound about this doc was the individual inmates that were depicted and the methods used on them. It left me with so many questions about whether or not these folks would be institutionalized by today's standards.
I don't really know what to think about this one. It is overwhelming, and hard to watch. I feel like the editing plays with us, and it only takes us so close. Provocative and earth shattering for the time. It gets 4 stars for the humanity, the balls to make the film, and the pain that the camera captures fleetingly.
As someone who has experienced modern day psychiatric abuse, I can say the authoritarianism, perverse ideology and "diagnostic" procedures are the same today as in 1967. Because there is no medical evidence in psychiatry it really comes down to the "patient's" story versus the doctor's -- and the former has already lost because he's been labelled a patient.
A very complex issue is oversimplified and given a flawed understanding, making it hard to find a middle ground between the real problems depicted and the ones probably more invented by editing than real, making this both ethical for its courage and unethical for being manipulative at times. There might be more truth in between scenes, just as a crazy person appears to be logical at times. Props for the real stuff.