6.9/10
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6 user 22 critic

Obscene (2007)

Not Rated | | Documentary, Biography | 27 February 2009 (UK)
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A look at the life and work of American publisher Barney Rosset, who struggled to bring controversial works like "Tropic of Cancer" and "Naked Lunch" to publication.

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Cast

Credited cast:
Amiri Baraka Amiri Baraka ... Himself
Lenny Bruce ... Himself (archive footage)
William S. Burroughs ... Himself (archive footage)
Jim Carroll Jim Carroll ... Himself
Lawrence Ferlinghetti Lawrence Ferlinghetti ... Himself
Al Goldstein ... Himself
Erica Jong Erica Jong ... Herself
Ray Manzarek ... Himself
John Rechy John Rechy ... Himself
Barney Rosset Barney Rosset ... Himself
Ed Sanders Ed Sanders ... Himself
John Sayles
Joseph Strick Joseph Strick ... Himself
Gore Vidal ... Himself
John Waters ... Himself
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A look at the life and work of American publisher Barney Rosset, who struggled to bring controversial works like "Tropic of Cancer" and "Naked Lunch" to publication.

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Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

27 February 2009 (UK) See more »

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Color
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Society owes a debt to Barney Rosset -- this film is a step
14 March 2008 | by larry-411See all my reviews

I attended the U.S. Premiere of "Obscene" at the 2008 SXSW Film Festival. But don't let the name fool you -- there is nothing obscene in or about this film. The only thing that's obscene is how government has tried to legislate morality and the courts have colluded over the past hundred years to block the publishing of literature by passing judgment on what is acceptable in America.

This eye-opening documentary about legendary publisher Barney Rosset exposes the reality of how First Amendment rights have actually been withheld over the years. Considered the pioneer of anti-censorship laws, Rosset, as the owner of New York-based Grove Press and the Evergreen Review, was involved in lawsuit after lawsuit in an effort to introduce some of the world's greatest authors, poets, and filmmakers to America. In that he succeeded, yet his name may not be well known to the public. This film hopes to change that.

Notables interviewed on screen include Ray Manzarek of The Doors, William S. Burroughs, John Waters, Gore Vidal, John Sayles, Erica Jong, Al Goldstein, Jim Carroll, Amiri Baraka, and Lenny Bruce -- a veritable Who's Who of artists and writers who've fought their own battles against censorship. "Obscene" is totally engaging and production values are top-notch.

Books like Henry Miller's "Tropic of Cancer" and William S. Burroughs' "Naked Lunch," along with the film classic "I Am Curious: Yellow," would not be part of our culture if not for the work of Barney Rosset. More than anything, though, "Obscene" is a human interest story about the life of one man -- what he achieved and how he suffered in his later years. The film is both moving and heartbreaking, and long overdue. Certainly anyone whose career or personal life involves championing the First Amendment should see this movie.


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