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Hypocrites (1915)

Passed | | Drama | 20 January 1915 (USA)
The parallel stories of a modern preacher and a medieval monk, Gabriel the Ascetic, who is killed by an ignorant mob for making a nude statue representing Truth, which is also represented by a ghostly naked girl who flits throughout the film.

Director:

Lois Weber (uncredited)

Writer:

Lois Weber
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Courtenay Foote ... Gabriel - the Ascetic (as Mr. Courtenay Foote)
Myrtle Stedman ... The Woman (as Miss Myrtle Stedman)
Herbert Standing Herbert Standing ... The Abbot (as Mr. Herbert Standing)
Adele Farrington Adele Farrington ... The Queen (as Miss Adele Farrington)
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Storyline

The parallel stories of a modern preacher and a medieval monk, Gabriel the Ascetic, who is killed by an ignorant mob for making a nude statue representing Truth, which is also represented by a ghostly naked girl who flits throughout the film.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

20 January 1915 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Den nøgne Sandhed See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(alternate) |

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Hypocrites was a shocking and controversial film whose release was held up for many months by the difficulty of distributing a film with full nudity. Weber's sincerity and reputation allowed her to use something that in the hands of a male director would have been considered scandalous and immoral. See more »

Alternate Versions

Kino International copyrighted and released a video in 2000, which was restored from the Library of Congress Motion Picture Conservation Center preservation print. It was produced by Jessica Rosner, has a piano score composed and performed by Jon Mirsalis and runs 49 minutes. See more »

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User Reviews

two cases of cinematic nudity (1915-1917)
11 January 2017 | by kekseksaSee all my reviews

Quite enough has been said in the previous reviews about this film which is not to my mind too wonderful, so here I would just like to make a comment on nudity, nudity in film and attitudes towards nudity.

Aside from hardcore pornographic films, which have always existed, total nudity was extremely rare in the cinema. In Méliès Après le bal for instance (a typical French strip-tease film of 1896), you see the actress (who was probably also the director's mistress at the time) is seen supposedly naked but only from a rear view and wearing a rather obvious body-stocking. Naked breasts one can find but what is known as "full frontal nudity" is not to be seen.

So this film enjoys something of a special cachet even though the nudity is extremely innocent and not in the least sexually tantalising. The actress, who was a "physical culture" specialist, is shown (albeit faintly superimposed) completely nude both from front and back. And, rather absurdly, the otherwise tiresomely moral film caused a certain amount of scandal and enjoyed a rather undeserved success.

Yet it is only in photoplays (fictions) that nudity shocked. in a society that was still blandly racist in its assumptions, certain kinds of nudity do not shock at all.

At about the same time as this film (1917 in fact), one could have seen, had one wished, male full-frontal nudity of a much more realistic nature in a Dutch film that almost certainly caused no scandal whatsoever and almost certainly enjoyed no particular success. A pornographic film? Not in the least. Have a look at Immigratie in Deli (available from the EYE archive) and you will see a group of men unself-consciously taking a shower, completely and undisguisedly nude.

In fact it is one of the documentaries made by the Dutch Colonial Institute illustrating working life in the Dutch East Indies. The men concerned are Chinese immigrant workers who, having made the passage and had their medical check are now all having a shower.

Nudity, although usually partial, has never been especially uncommon in documentaries whether in film or photograph. Physical culture films (posed nudity rather similar to that we see here) also escaped the taboo about nudity. There is for instance a little if rather coy full-frontal nudity (only female) in the 1925 German film Wege su Kraft und Schönheit (to this day an exemplary film about physical culture).

And these exemptions were just as well! As a child growing up in the fifties, one still relied on physical culture magazines (more than a shade "homo" however) and National Geographics for one's knowledge of human biology.

The context obviously is all important. There are sexual connotations to this film and quite creepy ones (women and priests and religion) while watching a bunch of Chinese gents having a shower is about as exciting as watching paint dry.

But there is a strong racist undertone to the indifference that such images aroused. A tribal woman's breasts simply do not have the same value as those of a "civilised" woman (not necessarily a question of white or black); a Chinese coolie's penis does not have the same impact as would, say, the (supposedly) impressive genitalia of an Errol Flynn. The Dutch film would of course never have shown the pith-helmeted colonial overseers disporting themselves in the same way.

Which all really goes to show how childish we are where nudity is concerned.


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