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Directed by Peter Watkins
Produced in 1967
Main Language - English
Countries & Regions - British Film
Jeremy Child, Paul Jones, Jean Shrimpton, Mark London
Graeme Hobbs acclaims Peter Watkins' bold and prescient 1967 satire on the cult of celebrity.
In the wake of the BBC’s banning of his 1965 film The War Game, Peter Watkins made this prescient and seriously absurd satire on the cult of celebrity and its relationship to media and politics. It was indigestible to its backers (Universal), generally misunderstood and unjustly savaged by critics. Now it appears that that Watkins was just a little more clear-sighted than most in his analysis of vacuous stardom.
Paul Jones plays ‘the most desperately loved entertainer in the world’, the character-free pop zombie Steven Shorter, leached of drive by the parasitic life that feeds on him from all sides. He is the pin-up boy for Steven Shorter Enterprises Ltd., backed by the coalition government as a way of diverting the attention of youth and keeping them out of poliitics. Sixties supermodel Jean Shrimpton (in her only film role) offers him a chance of escape.
Privilege is a bold and needling film that eludes easy reduction and is utterly resistant to assimilation into anyone else’s filmic vision.
Graeme Hobbs on 21st December 2009
Author of 276 reviews
Steven Shorter, the biggest pop star of his day, is loved by millions; his approval or endorsement can guide the choices and actions of the masses. But, in reality he is a puppet whose popularity is carefully managed by government-backed handlers keen to keep the country’s youth under control. Only an act of complete rebellion can set him free.
Starring Manfred Mann lead singer Paul Jones as Shorter, and iconic Sixties supermodel Jean Shrimpton as the girl who tries to help him defy the system, Privilege was Peter Watkins' only feature to be made in Britain, with the unjustly harsh critical reaction that the film received leading him into self-imposed exile from the country. Now, with the benefit of hindsight, we can see that not only was the film far ahead of its time in its assessment of celebrity worship, but it also raises ever more relevant questions regarding manipulation and control of the public.
Length: 99 mins
Cat No: BFIB1107
Format: DVD+Blu-ray Colour
- 2 discs
- All films remastered to High Definition
- Original Privilege trailer
- The Diary of an Unknown Soldier (Watkins, 1959): a young soldier in the trenches of the First World War, preparing for combat, shares his innermost feelings
- The Forgotten Faces (Peter Watkins, 1961): a newsreel-style account of the Hungarian uprising of 1956
- Extensive illustrated booklet with essays by Peter Watkins, film historian Robert Murphy, and Watkins specialist John Cook
- Dolby Digital mono audio (320 kbps).