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Privilege (BFI Flipside) (DVD + Blu-ray)

Jean Shrimpton , Paul Jones , Peter Watkins    Suitable for 15 years and over   DVD
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
Price: 8.69 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Privilege (BFI Flipside) (DVD + Blu-ray) + Permissive (DVD + Blu-ray)
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Product details

  • Actors: Jean Shrimpton, Paul Jones
  • Directors: Peter Watkins
  • Format: Dolby, PAL
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: BFI Flipside
  • DVD Release Date: 24 Oct 2011
  • Run Time: 103 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005R17ZH8
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 20,902 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

BFI Flipside presents

A film by Peter Watkins

THE FLIPSIDE : rescuing weird and wonderful British films from obscurity and presenting them in new high-quality editions.

Paul Jones (Manfred Mann) plays Steven Shorter, the biggest pop star of his day, whose endorsement influences the actions of the masses. In reality, though, he is a puppet whose popularity is carefully managed by government-backed handlers keen to keep the country's youth under control. Also starring sixties supermodel Jean Shrimpton, Privilege is available in the UK for the first time since its original release.

Special Features

  • Presented in both High Definition and Standard Definition
  • Original Privilege trailer
  • The Diary of an Unknown Soldier (Peter Watkins, 1959, 17 mins): a WW1 soldier shares his innermost feelings as he prepares for combat
  • The Forgotten Faces (Peter Watkins, 1961, 19 mins): a gripping newsreel-style account of the 1956 peoples uprising in Hungary
  • Illustrated booklet with new essays by film historian Robert Murphy and Watkins specialist John Cook

UK | 1967 | colour | English language, with optional English hard-of-hearing subtitles | 103 minutes | Original aspect ratio 1.85:1

Disc 1: BD50 | 1080p | 24fps | PCM mono audio (48k/24-bit)
Disc 2: DVD9 | PAL | Dolby Digital mono audio (320kbps)

Product Description

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 is the third feature from provocative British director Peter Watkins, a filmmaker who s unique verite-style and oppositional themes have met with controversy throughout his career. Remastered in High Definition and made available in the UK for the first time since its original cinema release, Privilege is presented here with two of Watkins' earliest film works. Special Features: Dual Format Edition: includes both the Blu-ray and the DVD of the film and the extras; Original Privilege trailer; The Diary of an Unknown Soldier (Peter Watkins, 1959, 17 mins): a young solider in the trenches of the First World War, preparing for combat, shares his innermost feelings in this compelling short; The Forgotten Faces (Peter Watkins, 1961, 19 mins): a gripping newsreel-style account of the peoples uprising in Hungary, 1956, given forceful authenticity by Watkins unique approach; Extensive illustrated booklet with essays by Peter Watkins, film historian Robert Murphy, and Watkins specialist John Cook.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lessons from the1960's to ponder today 4 July 2008
(Disclaimer- I am an American who saw the film in its initial release.)

The formerly preposterously rare (two extant prints in the universe) 1967 film "Privilege" has just been digitally restored in its original color and will be offered for sale by Amazon et al in a month or so.

This matters for several reasons. Firstly, because the film was as prescient as many consider Nostradamus to have been. Its plot, considered so far-fetched at the time that the film was oft labeled science fiction, centers around an increasingly totalitarian government in a first world country that attempts social engineering at all levels, including utilization of pop culture. It's hit on the formula to control youthful rebellion and dissent in general by investing a young pop idol with state-sponsored power (more in a minute) as centerpiece of national obsession. EVERYONE cares about this particular pop idol and what happens to him every week, since his act has been designed to attract universal sympathy and diffuse caring about one's self and one's own troubles. I'll not reveal how because the strange design of the first tour of his that viewers see is a revelation within itself.

What he says, what products he endorses, and how he steers the populace into state-sponsored trends and philosophies is a fait accompli in the film. The government notes a surplus of apple crops, idol Steven is immediately shown eating lots of apples, as now will the general populace. Got religion? Steven now does, and you will too. It always works. You buy what he wears, what he endorses. But what sort of personality would go along with being such a figurehead? And what sort of actor could even pull this messianic stardom off realistically, since the film is made in documentary style?
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A neglected masterpiece. 13 April 2011
I get fedup of what seems to be the generic criticism - it's dated - that functions almost as a self-generating comment in response to older films. Of course older films will be dated, but this claim often offers little more than a comment upon the technicalities of film-making.

Anyway, with Privilege that claim is redundant. This is a fascinating work up there with 'If...' as a landmark in British cinema.

Obviously highy recommended - but you might want to seek out the earlier DVD release featuring the short film 'Lonely Boy' - a better thematic accompaniment, although Watkin's short films are not without some merit.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Finally on DVD 24 Feb 2010
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Great to see this on DVD, and the film is impressive.
It's a pity the soundtrack is not easily available on CD, the music is great.
Paul Jones was obviously better at singing/songwriting and performing at this stage than he was at acting, and Jean Shrimpton was not really an actor at all, but both are effective in this film. It's very 60's, although set in some future year after the film was made. Its themes have become somewhat prophetic over the years, as we look at society allowing itself to be brainwashed by government, church, advertisers etc, with the culture of celebrity worship being their tool to work with.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flawed but essential. 23 Oct 2009
I 1st saw this film in about 1985 on Channel 4 very late at night, I only watched it because I had seen a trailer which included the song/ theme tune "Prvilege" which I recognised as the song Patti Smith had covered on 'Easter'. About 10 minutes in I realised that it was brilliant and dived into my pile of vidoes to find a blank one to record it onto.

Eventually I got the ex-rental top loader to record, but by then I'd missed a good 15 mins of the film.

I watched that grainy VHS tape again and again for years. I've been waiting for this to be reissued every since, resorting a couple of years ago to buying a dodgy bootleg of a VHS to digital transfer, which was almost as grainy as my original VHS copy.

Now, at last there's a pristine DVD available, and I jumped at it as soon as I knew it was out.

It took me a while to realise that Peter Watkins was the same man who'd made "The War Game" and "Culloden", and this is made in the same quasi-documentary style.

It's dated a bit - some of the swinging 60's stuff is pretty embarasing, and neither Jones or Shrimpton are what I'd call great actors, but the ideas expressed in the film still hold up now, in fact they may be even more relevant...

The part about the two main parties being so close to each other that they've stopped pretending there's any difference and formed a coalition government is not too far from the truth today for instance, and the Nuremberg style rally is chilling if again a bit dated (although this was made in the time of "The festival of light" and other right wing/ religious groups beginning to raise their heads.

You can see some of the budget limitations in the sparsly peopled 'crowd' scenes, but all in all I would recommend you get this if you are at all interested in Film History, Political/ Media studies or just 60's pop culture.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars a walk down memory lane 23 April 2011
By A. Thai
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
Imagine! My professor of English literature telling his students, in those pre-68 days, to go and watch the film Privilege, and he mentions "the dark satanic mills", "the bonds of retribution", "Onward Christian soldiers", and the film is showing in English (V.O. as we say) in a cinema in the heart of France.
So I did as I was told, and I remember I liked the film. Well, any opportunity to hear some English, to watch the singer of Manfred Mann turned actor was welcome.
So I bought the blu-ray, especially at that price. Good technical quality. And that's quite a walk down memory lane!
But was I disappointed!
You don't make a film with just one or two ideas. Yes, the film is dated because it fails to be a film. It is no more than a pamphlet, and not a very subtle one at that (I like the fact that the reverend sounds like Hitler though) and there is nothing worse than prophecies that never happen.
Paul Jones looks suitably sad and depressed throughout the film, and four decades later, I still find his little boy lost look quite appealing (but I won't repeat what a nasty critic said about his skin), and I clearly remember the semi-detached suburban Mr. Jones hit by Manfred Mann as a response to his leaving the group.
Jean Shrimpton is "quite a doll" as the bodyguard says, but she is little more than that. And there is not one single character that looks remotely like a real human being. They are all there as ideas, as "them" (as opposed to some virtual "us", the discerning viewers?), the manipulators who exploit poor Steve Shorter. There being no characters, we cannot expect any character development.
We could say that the film-makers succeeded so well into making Steve a "nothing" that we cannot be interested in any way in what happens to him.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars after its time and a bit "so what?"
The film has some interesting ideas about political control through manipulation of culture but to discover it was released as late as 1967 for me renders it somewhat too late. Read more
Published 16 months ago by gerryg
5.0 out of 5 stars Außergewöhnlicher Musikfilm
Wie nicht anders zu erwarten hat BFI den Film & Ton äußerst gut restauriert. Ansonsten ist der Film nicht jedermanns Sache. Read more
Published on 18 April 2012 by Gegenverkehr
2.0 out of 5 stars What a disappointment!!!!!
We saw this film in 1967 a one of the few times it was actually shown in the cinema. After waiting a very long time for this to be available in the UK I bought it as a Valentine's... Read more
Published on 19 Feb 2012 by SueC
5.0 out of 5 stars ...a BFI Privilege (for spanish customers)
Aviso: la colección "Flipside" de BFI es altamente adictiva. Este es el volumen 007 de dicha serie y presenta en una notable restauración a HD la poco conocida pero... Read more
Published on 23 Nov 2011 by AL Pastor
4.0 out of 5 stars Priviledge
Delivery was quick and it was good value. We are trying to build up a good library of old film DVD's and its nice to know you can get these as a good price.
Published on 28 Oct 2011 by Carole
1.0 out of 5 stars Very Dull
It is a lovely transfer on Blur ray but the film itself is so dull. The "acting" is just awful. It may have been good in its day but I found it overly long and I cringed a lot,... Read more
Published on 2 Sep 2011 by saharapage
3.0 out of 5 stars Scattershot Sixties Satire Mainly Dull
While it's by no means a write off, I have to admit I found this Orwellian pop culture satire overlong, badly acted and often ham fisted in its delivery. Read more
Published on 11 May 2011 by Now Zoltan
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and important
Made on the cusp of 'swinging' London/Britain, this rather prescient story of the states use of popular culture as a form of mass control (in this instance, pop music), and the... Read more
Published on 4 May 2011 by TGillespie
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring!!!!
Great blu ray but my god what a load of rubbish. Being from the "60s", we made some brilliant classic films but this is not one of them. Read more
Published on 17 April 2011 by Jimbo
4.0 out of 5 stars Dated but good
What a great voice he had, and underused as an actor. I was younger than Jean Shrimpton by about 5 years, so I was interested to see it. Read more
Published on 21 Oct 2010 by Carla Marx
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