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Fact-based story about the court proceedings that followed Cincinnati art museum director Dennis Barrie after his decision to display a controversial art exhibit by photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. The proceedings start with an inflamed County Sheriff who is determined to put Barrie in jail. A grand jury established to determine whether the sexually explicit photographs were obscene found seven of the pictures to possibly be obscene. The seven pictures depicted nude children, a man ramming his fist up another man's anus, and man with his finger in his penis. Other pictures in the exhibit did depict explicit nudity and sexual connotation. An obviously biased judge made derisive decisions throughout the trial. The strain of the trial also placed Barrie's marriage under duress, which ultimately led to his wife divorcing him, and led to Barrie's children being derided and physically attacked by their classmates. Written by
John Sacksteder <email@example.com>
This film deals with the same 1st Amendment rights issues as THE PEOPLE VS. LARRY FLYNT. It presents the case of the Cincinnati art museum that displayed the photography of Robert Mapplethorpe. Intercut with the action of the film are comments from both the political right and left, including Mapplethorpe himself.
The song "Banned in the USA," a "Born in the USA" parody dealing with censorship, sums up the point -- that if some people protest against what other people want, that's fine, but if the protestors try to impose their own will through misapplication of law, that is not only censorship but also the first step towards dictatorship hiding under the guise of benevolent morality.
The cast is strong, especially James Woods as the museum director. The plot meanders back and forth in time, giving us background and consequences woven together into an intriguing story. The issues raised are important, and the dramatic presentation of these issues makes the film worthwhile.
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