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Privilege (1967)

 -  Comedy | Drama | Music  -  28 February 1967 (UK)
7.1
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 675 users  
Reviews: 32 user | 35 critic

Steven Shorter is the ultimate British music star. His music is listened to by everyone from pre-teens to grandparents. He has no trace of public bad habits or drug involvement. Everyone in... See full summary »

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Director: Peter Watkins
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Paul Jones ...
...
Mark London ...
William Job ...
Max Bacon ...
Jeremy Child ...
James Cossins ...
Frederick Danner ...
Marcus Hooper
Victor Henry ...
Freddie K
Arthur Pentelow ...
Leo Stanley
Steve Kirby ...
Squit
Malcolm Rogers ...
Rev. Jeremy Tate
Doreen Mantle ...
Miss Crawford
Michael Graham ...
Timothy Arbutt
Michael Barrington ...
The Bishop of Essex
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Storyline

Steven Shorter is the ultimate British music star. His music is listened to by everyone from pre-teens to grandparents. He has no trace of public bad habits or drug involvement. Everyone in Britain loves him. His handlers begin to use his popularity for projects like increasing the consumption of apples after a bumper crop as an aid to farmers. The handlers decide that Steven should support God and Country next. This leads to, among other things, a rock version of "Onward Christian Soldiers," and the inclusion of a Nazi salute to make it clear (to the viewer) how far the British population will be taken for love of God and Country under Steven's guidance. Steven is very plastic in his direction, shifting as his handlers point him toward new projects until he meets Vanessa Ritchie, an artist who makes him look at what's happening. Written by John Vogel {jlvogel@comcast.net}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

He Was the Ultimate Entertainer! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Music | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

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Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

28 February 1967 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Privileg  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Eric Burdon claimed that he had been cast as Steve Shorter at the time. See more »

Quotes

Rev. Jeremy Tate: This black card will be issued to you as you leave the Stadium tonight. On it there are three words.They are simple words but they are vital words. They are words which we must now, all of us, begin using because, since the end of the War, we in Britain have become apathetic, slack, loose in our morality. National cohesion has become unimportant to us! We must fight this. We must. Now, all of us begin to use the words on the card! "We will conform."
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Cinemania (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

Jerusalem
(uncredited)
Music by Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry
Words by William Blake
Arranged by Edward Elgar
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User Reviews

 
Compelling , Incisive , But Painfully Dated And Obvious
19 May 2007 | by (Isle Of Bute , Scotland) – See all my reviews

Both the strengths and the flaws of PRIVILEGE are easily spotted within the first five minutes of its running time . A voice over announces it's Britain in the near future and Stephen Shorter messianic rock god is thrown over a barrier , dragged into a cage and harassed by sadistic warders much to the disgust of his captivated female audience of all ages . The background music of discordant guitar feedback changes to one of a synth with a guitar rift and Stephen bursts into a song that will have you playing air guitar and tapping your toes . In short the music is by far the best thing about the movie

So what's wrong with the rest of the miss en scene ? Peter Watkins insists on directing in the Italian Neo-realist style which while very popular amongst European film makers in the late 1940s and early 1950s

  • And not to mention amongst European film critics in the 1960s - is a


style of film making that didn't catch on in mainstream cinema . It worked fine in Watkin's previous work like CULLODEN and THE WAR GAME but these were precursors to what we now call " docudramas " , the only time we see a natural home for the Italian neo-realist style . It should also be mentioned that the shots of weeping teenage girls gnashing their teeth and running their hands through their hair could only have come from the 1960s and isn't there something laughably ridiculous having women in their late middle age drooling over a music god ? Do the words " Monty " and " Python " and " Sketch " spring to mind ?

As the story continues there's something of a lack of internal continuity to this scene . You see both the state and the church want to use the popularity and charisma of Shorter to control the population for their own end , in short to make popular music in general and Stephen Shorter in particular the new opiate of the masses . If that's the case then why have Shorter portray himself as the angry young man and rebel in the start of the film ? Wouldn't that give rebellious youth a few ideas that the state would prefer them not to have in the first place ? There are a few more ridiculous scenes in the movie with pride of place going to the monks recording Onward Christian Soldiers . You can't help thinking this movie influenced Palin , Cleese , Chapman and co to start up a comedy troupe

These criticisms are noticeable but shouldn't be used as a weapon to attack the film as being a schlock movie or meaningless . Let's not forget if Bush and Blair want to be seen doing good in the world then all they have to do is call a press conference and have Bob Geldof and Bono talk about AIDS , starving babies and third world debt and the link between Nuremberg rallies and present day rock concerts is presented very well , it's just that you're never entirely convinced an Illuminati would never need to pull strings in order to bring about fascist regimes or fundamentalist theocracies because these type of societies come about via more obvious methods

PRIVILEGE was a film that was supposed to make a star out of Paul Jones and put Watkins on the map as Britain's most important film director . Unfortunately due to the rather heavy handed story which suits the director's style it caused a lot of distributors in both Britain and the United States to either refuse to show it or confine it to very limited release which meant very few people saw it . It's also a film that very rarely crops up on network television either , to my knowledge Channel 4 last showed it 20 years ago which is a great pity because this deserves to be at least a cult classic whatever its flaws and for music fans who have bought Patti Smith's Easter album just wait till you hear Jones perform the original Set Me Free


12 of 17 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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