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A British scientist is discovered to have been passing information to the Communists, then kills himself. Another scientist decides that they might have brainwashed him by a sensory deprivation technique, but he doesn't know if someone really can be convinced to act against their strongest feelings. So he agrees to be the subject in an experiment in which others will try to make him stop loving his wife. Written by
This Dirk Bogarde film was the inspiration for the name of the British band "Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders." See more »
And I have every limb and organ that a girl should have, except one. I no longer have a shoulder to weep on. A Polish gentleman wore it away with his tears.
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This story was suggested by experiments on "THE REDUCTION OF SENSATION" recently carried out by certain Universities in the United States. The producers whilst making this acknowledgment wish to state, however the the events & characters portrayed are fictitious. Any similarity to actual events or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. See more »
Astonishing and gripping early story about sensory deprivation phenomena
This is an extremely important and early film about the effects of sensory deprivation upon the human mind and personality. The term 'sensory deprivation' is not used, and instead the phenomenon is called both 'isolation' and 'sensation reduction'. I think perhaps the reason why this excellent film, one of the best ever made by director Basil Dearden, is not better known is that this subject became so sensitive that information about it became subjected to security restrictions, and pressure may have been applied to prevent the subsequent showings of this film after 1963. The film contains one of the finest and widest-ranging of all the performances in his career by Dirk Bogarde, who plays the lead. Mary Ure plays his wife. She comes in for a lot of abuse and bad treatment from her husband, which reminded me of her role as Alison in LOOK BACK IN ANGER (1959), where she was similarly abused and humiliated by her husband. Ure had been married in real life to John Osborne, and had originated the role of Alison in his play on stage at the Royal Court Theatre before later recreating it on screen, with Richard Burton playing her husband. Her amazingly quiet, superior, and serene beauty seemed to provoke and invite hysterical males to wish to torment her, and she submitted with such meekness to their abuse that the tormenting and the submission in both films set off virtual firestorms of sado-masochistic display. Poor Mary Ure died at the age of only 42, and after that perhaps she finally escaped her tormentors who had all been 'driven crazy by her'. Her submissiveness was really like the silent eye of a hurricane, with all the sadistic alpha males raging round her like violent storm winds gone mad. Some women just seem to do that to men, though fortunately not very often. This film is a riveting story, very dramatically and excellently presented, of the hazards of total sensory deprivation, and of how it can within a matter of hours break down a man's personality and reduce him to a screaming loony or a helpless quivering jelly of a person. In this same year, Jack Vernon's classic book 'Inside the Black Room: Studies of Sensory Deprivation' was published, describing experiments carried out at Princeton University. It was only two years earlier, in 1961, that Harvard University Press had brought out a scholarly book edited by Philip Solomon called 'Sensory Deprivation: A Symposium Held at Harvard Medical School'. So for a few brief years, this subject was allowed to go public, before the lids of the security services clamped down tightly, and information ceased getting out. We now all know that sensory deprivation is a fundamental and systematic tool of torture and interrogation, and useful for brain-washing. Subsequent technical studies in the field of hypnosis have emphasized the connection with hypnotic techniques of suggestion. See the book 'Open to Suggestion: the Uses and Abuses of Hypnosis' (1989). The standard narrowing of attention in hypnotic induction techniques is itself a minor form of sensory deprivation, since it reduces the stimuli and above all must focus the attention on a single thing (a point of the wall opposite, a swinging watch, or whatever). All leaders of sinister cults and sects know that to capture converts they have to whisk them off to some remote spot and keep them isolated for a minimum of three days. Their contacts with family and friends must be cut off. They must become captives of the new cult, and as captives they will then accept conversion and even become fanatical. This is similar to the 'Patty Hearst Syndrome' where you become so attached to your captors that you cannot and will not leave them, but end up identifying with them. The human mind and personality are malleable and susceptible to pressure and suggestion. When any form of sensory deprivation is used, however restricted, susceptibility and suggestibility are increased. If advertisers could trap us all in private rooms while being forced to look at their ads, they would! The battle of life is largely a battle of competing illusions. There is the illusion of normality, and the illusion of the everyday. And then there are the propagated illusions which try to capture us, swallow us, and use us. The more enfeebled our own abilities to think are, the more isolated we are, the less support we have, the easier we are to manipulate. In today's world, we are all being manipulated every day. Ads are manipulation, peer pressure is manipulation, commercial imperatives are manipulation, traffic wardens are manipulators, unreasonable government restrictions and red tape are manipulation: we are all victims, and it gets worse every week. Now we are bombarded 24 hours a day with information and communications, most of which we cannot absorb properly, and we are becoming beings who are pounded to pulp and who merely exist in order to pay taxes and shut up. This film was an early warning more than half a century ago, which was largely ignored. Everyone should watch it, wonder how much worse things have become since 1963, and think the unthinkable: what will it be like by 2063? Or will we all by then have become robotised so that we will not even be aware anymore of anything but the orders we are given and the imperative need to obey, obey, obey? Anyone who thinks that hypnotic and other forms of suggestion cannot coerce individuals to go against their moral principles is utterly wrong.
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