In their final year at Muncie's Southside High School, a group of seniors hurtles toward maturity with a combination of joy, despair, and an aggravated sense of urgency. They are also ... See full summary »
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In their final year at Muncie's Southside High School, a group of seniors hurtles toward maturity with a combination of joy, despair, and an aggravated sense of urgency. They are also learning a great deal about life, both in and out of school, and not what school officials think they are teaching.

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February 1985 (USA)  »

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Essential Documentary
6 October 2005 | by (Niantic, CT) – See all my reviews

Check the demographic breakdown for the user ratings. Fascinating. Apparently young men think this is awful while middle-aged guys (yeah, that's me) think it's great.

What this is, is simply the most intimate documentary ever made, and it's subjects are 'regular people', specifically lower-middle-class teens in Muncie, Indiana. I guess some reviewers feel such folks aren't worth making a film about, and would rather watch movies about wizards and elfin princesses. For those who find reality interesting, 'Seventeen' is 'direct cinema' (aka cinema verite) taken as far as the form can go. It was shot with a fixed focal length wide-angle lens, which means that the camera is basically within 4-8 feet of the subjects most of the time. This yields amazing revelatory moments, and perhaps a sense of queasiness on exactly the same grounds, the subjects are pretty exposed. This caused a fair amount of controversy. The film had been commissioned for a PBS series, and PBS (cowards) dropped it. The film has continued to be largely repressed, and is seldom screened. If you get a chance to see it, DO NOT PASS IT UP. You will never see anything else quite like it, and whether you 'like' it or not it's a unique and thought provoking experience.


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