Movie Review: Titicut Follies (1967) #atozchallenge

This is my entry for “T” in the Blogging A to Z Challenge. Throughout April I will be watching and reviewing a documentary movie from A to Z. Some other “T” documentaries I’ve reviewed are 13th, Tower, and Trekkies.

Title: Titicut Follies
Release Date: October 3, 1967
Director: Frederick Wiseman
Production Company: Zipporah Films, Inc.

This is a hard movie to watch and its even harder to believe it exists.  Frederick Wiseman filmed his first verite-style documentary with a single-camera and only existing light sources over 29-days at the Bridgewater State Hospital for the Criminally Insane.  Bridgewater  State is far more prison than hospital and Wiseman documents how the patients are frequently stripped of clothing and left in bare rooms (reportedly as a cost-saving measure).  Guards mock and taunt patients. In a particularly grueling sequence, we see the prison staff rather indifferently force feed a patient.  The same patient died later on and images of his body being prepared for burial are intercut with the force feeding segment.

Not surprisingly, Massachusetts banned this movie and it was not made viewable by the general public until the 1990s.  The argument that it violates the patients’ privacy has its merits, but more like it was a cover your ass measure to hide the cruel treatment at Bridgewater State. In the decades after this movie was filmed there were cases of wrongful death as well people being held at Bridgewater past the end of their sentences, and some people sent there who never should’ve been there at all.

What Can One Learn From Watching This Documentary:

This film documents another instance of how the word “criminal” can be used to justify the cruellest treatment of human beings.  A psychiatrist frequently appears in the film, but he seems only interested in agitating the prisoners and often he speaks nonsense.  The point is made that if you weren’t insane when you arrived at Bridgewater State, it is the type of place that would drive one to insanity.  Whatever your thoughts on crime and punishment, I hope you can agree that the cruel treatment documented in this film doesn’t do anyone any good.  I’m certain that even though this movie is 50 years old that there are prisons and “hospitals” that still function like this in the United States, and we need to work past incarceration and towards transformative justice and treatment.

If You Like This You Might Also Want To …:

“Like” may not be the right word in regards to this documentary, but if you feel moved to do something to help the incarcerated, I believe the Prison Book Program is an excellent cause to support.

Source: Kanopy

Rating: ****

2019 Blogging A to Z Challenge – Documentary Films, Part II

A: Amy
B: Being Elmo
C: Central Park Five
D: Dear Mr. Watterson
E: The Endless Summer
F: F for Fake
G: Grey Gardens
H: High School
I: Ida B. Wells: A Passion for Justice
J: Jiro Dreams of Sushi
K: Kon-Tiki
L: The Last Waltz
M: Man With a Movie Camera
N: Nanook of the North
O: Obit.
P: Pelotero
Q: Quest: A Portrait of an American Family
R: Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan
S: Soundtrack for a Revolution

If you want to read more, check out my previous Blogging A to Z Challenges:

And dig deep into Panorama of the Mountains, by checking out my:

And, if you like Doctor Who, I have a whole ‘nother blog where I review Doctor Who stories across media: Epic Mandates.

A Song and a Story: “Thing of Beauty” #AtoZChallenge

Today’s song by the Irish rock band Hothouse Flowers is pretty and inspirational, and truly a

Thing of Beauty

Back in 1999 and 2000, I participated in the Boston –> New York AIDSRide.  The commitment involved bicycling 275 miles between the two cities over a three-day September weekend (challenging, but doable as I was biking a lot as a commuter at the time) and raising at least $2000 dollars in pledges (much harder, but I pulled it off with the help of my generous family and friends).

The first year, I didn’t do much biking at all as the AIDSRide weekend coincided with Hurricane Floyd.  Instead we were bused to New Haven where we spent the night sleeping in the New Haven Coliseum, after watching Breaking Away on the jumbotron.  The next day, some bikes had been delivered to New Haven for riders to participate in the next leg to Bridgeport, but mine was not among them, so I rode the bus again.  After a night sleeping in a Bridgeport high school, I was reunited in my bike and was able to ride the final 60 miles to New York City on a beautiful, sunny day.

The next year the weather was more agreeable, and I was able to ride up and down the hills of Massachusetts and northeast Connecticut to Storrs where we camped for the night.  The next day was more challenging as the whole route seemed to be a moderate incline with no downhills.  As the sun set, I was picked up by the van for the final few miles into Bridgeport.  But once again, I got to ride into New York City for the grand finale on the third day.  So, I never rode the entire distance from Boston to New York, but close enough.

Over the two years I was involved in the Boston –> New York AIDSRide as a rider, fundraisers, and volunteer, I watched the orientation film several times.  Over scenes from the very first AIDSRide in 1995 of riders arriving in New York, a song played that I absolutely loved.  This was before Shazam, so I had no idea what it was.  But on that third day in 2000, at a rest stop in Connecticut, a crew member at the snack stand was playing a stereo, and I heard this song.

“You must tell me what this song is!” I told him.

“Uh, its ‘Thing of Beauty’ by Hothouse Flowers.”

To do this day “Thing of Beauty” is one of my all-time favorite songs and a reminder of the long bike rides and fellowship of the AIDSRides of ’99 and ’00.

2019 Blogging A to Z Challenge – A Song and a Story

A: Always on My Mind
B: Baby Come Back and Baker Street
C: Cheek to Cheek
D: Don’t Worry, Be Happy and Doctor Jones
E: Everyday Sunshine
F: Fly Me to the Moon
G: Ghost Town
H: Hobo Humpin’ Slobo Babe
I: If I Were John Carpenter
J: Jungle Strut and Justified & Ancient
K: Kiss
L: Loaded
M: Marble Halls and My Moon, My Man
N: New York, New York
O: Oliver’s Army
P: The Parting Glass
Q: Qué Onda Guero
R: Rave On
S: The Servant Song

If you want to read more, check out my previous Blogging A to Z Challenges:

And dig deep into Panorama of the Mountains, by checking out my:

And, if you like Doctor Who, I have a whole ‘nother blog where I review Doctor Who stories across media: Epic Mandates.