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Breasts: A Documentary (1996)

TV Movie  |  Documentary
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Twenty-two women (ranging in age from 11 to 84), with 41 breasts, talk about their breasts; most are topless as they speak. They talk about adolescence, bras, commercial images of women's ... See full summary »


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Title: Breasts: A Documentary (TV Movie 1996)

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Twenty-two women (ranging in age from 11 to 84), with 41 breasts, talk about their breasts; most are topless as they speak. They talk about adolescence, bras, commercial images of women's figures, having implants or, in one case, a breast reduction, health problems with silicone, doctors' exams ("I think you have a throat infection, let me examine your breasts"), breasts as power tools and as objects of pleasure, cancer, living with mastectomies, and the effects of time and gravity. Two mother-daughter teams and two strippers participate. The women (and the girls) are humorous, straightforward, reflective, and good-natured about their bodies and themselves. Written by <>

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a serious look at (insert other name here)
28 May 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Let's get this out of the way, so the ones checking out this page looking for info on anything related to the word "Breasts" (and you know who you are, googlers) can move along: this is not in any way pornographic. On the contrary, if this has any value as masturbation material then, frankly, the filmmaker didn't do a good job since the aim is to keep it on subject and on the experiences of women and their bodies and images of themselves and society and health and so on. Indeed, I would be a little circumspect of one who came across this on DVD or, if it ever plays again, late night on HBO or Cinemax and used it as a means for pleasure. You might as well go to the supermarket and pick up a pair of ripe melons and take them home and squeeze them and uh, well, you get the idea.

No, this is semi-serious film-making meant for premium late-night viewing, but it shouldn't have to be just for the late-night types. This is intimate in setting but not in tone. All of the women, in all their variety of shapes and sizes, and races, and even with one man thrown in with fake breasts, have something of value to say, from life experience in the most straightforward way. If I say semi-serious it's due to the several little segments that the director feels she needs to throw in, with the archival footage of old "how-to" videos about puberty and sex and breasts and super-rare cartoons with the knockers flying about. This isn't a problem but an asset: we need a few little visual seg-ways to go between these interviews.

Nothing is held back, and we see it as feminism in a liberating form: they don't need to cover up, and even if they choose not to take their tops and shirts and bras off they're still open as can be about a natural part of their body that is an object of sex, surprise, comfort, discomfort, curiosity, motherhood, and, sadly, cancer. In that last part, there's another brave step taken as we see a woman who survived her cancer with only one breast. You know you've become mature and an adult when you can see this woman who has somehow gone on to live a semi-normal life with one breast (the most bittersweet moment is when she says if a fairy godmother said she could have one wish to have two full breasts she would have to think about it), and you don't snicker or go "eww, gross." That's the test, folks.

It's not shot under the best of circumstances, but then again for TV it's edited with a tight pace. It's never dull for a moment, and we never feel like anyone is holding back, especially when a man might hear the hard truth like that breasts may not really be erogenous, or that a flat chest is very attractive to some men. Breasts: A Documentary is about deconstructing myths with real faces and breasts and minds and hearts laid bare. If that's worthy of a "I was alone" session, then, well, more power to you, I guess, though it's not the intention.

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