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738 Ratings

Titicut Follies

Directed by Frederick Wiseman
United States, 1967


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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Titicut Follies Directed by Frederick Wiseman
To gaze into the footlights of that demeaning opening scene is to be plunged into an ambiguity established around whether what follows will be 'fiction' or 'documentary,' and in the close of the film and this essay we come full-circle, for the film will be fiction and documentary, the one in the other, in this Cinema, this Grand Illusion, the zoom-back and now forward, brotherhood of man a possibility, or once a notion, among other images, notions: lithium-puppets, or the divinely irradiated
August 31, 2011
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The main feeling is one of stripped girth and haunted eyes, an European-accented analyst doting over the details of a child molester's sex life, a patient sliding a sour trombone across the yard while another karaokes to "Chinatown," playing on a telly nearby... No escape hatch, just the director's "Now what?" -- the thirst for reform, the outrage that leads a lawyer to take up cinema as the extension of societal inquiry, and vérité images aimed to scald the memory.
September 25, 2010
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Even though it is mostly remembered as a harrowing exposé, it isn't all doom and gloom. The title of the film shares its name with the play the inmates put on for their guards and nurses. It is a swirling, bizarre pageant that casts light, however dim, on the inmates' lives. This is Wiseman's signature move as a documentarian: to show that institutions, even flawed and failing ones, are a complicated web of good and bad with no easy solutions.
February 06, 2009
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