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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>
Would the trial end differently in our totalitarian society?
As one very familiar with the trashing of the Bill of Rights here in Boston, I was intrigued by this movie..made in 2000 of events of 1991. The right to show Mapplethorpe's somewhat repulsive pictures (some of them) was upheld by a jury in Cincinnati. It sent me rushing out to google Dennis Barrie and discover that he is now the curator of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We need ANOTHER movie made now in our current return to McCarthyism to play out the theme of freedom's denial again....disobeying the unconstitutional Patriot Act with today's Supreme Court 'will leave one in jail for years', it appears.
The use of the jurors in deliberation was excellent as we are shown the varying views that led to the acquittal of Mr. Barrie. However, I wish we could have been shown the views of the children now grown, in terms of how they viewed the persecution THEY received, which is vividly shown. As a dissident in a small town, my grandsons have received abuse and taunts for my anti-war stand and protests, so I know that our work to keep the flame of freedom bright never stops but often hurts those not directly in the battle.
From civil rights to artistic expression to war-mongering, the battle lines seem to have been drawn against the same ignorant, bigoted people for all of my 65 years. The use of the far-right Christian to tell you that the Barries divorced, that the judge and prosecutor were dumped, that Barrie lost his job a year or so later was an excellent mechanism to show us more of the truth, and to underscore the point that "freedom is not free". My still aching knees from being dumped out of a paddy wagon onto a concrete floor and dragged into a holding cell in the Harrison Ave. jail in Boston a month ago for protesting this slaughter of the Iraqis and illegal invasion of Iraq attest to the truth of that.
An excellent movie, one I nearly didn't buy because of it's 'unpleasant' title. Wonder how many movies never get the honors they deserve because of their unpleasant title or subject matter.
13 of 21 people found this review helpful.
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