The Joy of Sex Education [DVD]
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A collection of seven archive sex education films from the 20th century. From the impenetrably euphemistic to the breathtakingly explicit, the anthology takes us through 60 years of sex education in Britain from the 1910s to the 1970s. Films included are: 'Whatsoever a Man Soweth' (1917), 'Deferred Payment' (1929), 'The Irresponsibles' (1929), 'The Mystery of Marriage' (1932), 'How To Tell' (1935), 'Six Little Jungle Boys' (1945) and 'Don't Be Like Brenda!' (1973).
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Some titles such as Martin Cole's "Growing Up" (1971) are harsh, explicit and still shocking to this day - perhaps even more so, as even the most raunchy late night programming shys away from describing the act in such harsh anatomical terms. Other films such as "Her Name Is Ellie; His Name Was Kyle" (1967) utilises grainy Film Noir techniques and advanced storylines to hammer the message home with added syphillitic reference, and "Don't Be Like Brenda" (1973)is "Cathy Come Home" with added misogyny. As the BFI does with it's British Travel Films anthologies, it packages them lovingly as lost art forms and releases them into the public for us to enjoy beyond the usual Frames of Reference. The World these films belong to no longer exists, live with it.
Along with the films of Jeff Keen also released this month, the BFI continues to astound us in these tough times. Highly recommended naturally; just don't expect a straight face.
This collection is of interest to anyone who finds discussions of sexual mores fascinating and anyone who wishes to study Discourses surrounding bodies and sexualities. The films herein do not show how we became more liberated (even Growing Up is highly problematic for all it's apparent liberation) but the body became and remained a site for a very Authoritarian Discourse on how The Body was to be used, who controlled The Body and the individuals freedom (or lack thereof) to own their own body. It is telling that only the last few films (Growing Up and Have you Got A Male Assistant Please Miss) discuss masturbation and contraception.
Given this Dave Formula misses the opportunity to discuss these issues in his music for the early silent films in the collection and produces three very similar sounding, formulaic (no pun intended) scores.
Highly recommended none the less.
Oh and if you just want to have a bit of a giggle the collections good for that too.