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directed by Peter Watkins
UK 1967

 

Steven Shorter, the biggest pop star of his day, is loved by millions; his approval or endorsement can guide the choices and actions of the masses. But, in reality he is a puppet whose popularity is carefully managed by government-backed handlers keen to keep the country's youth under control. Only an act of complete rebellion can set him free.

Starring Manfred Mann lead singer Paul Jones as Shorter, and iconic Sixties supermodel Jean Shrimpton as the girl who tries to help him defy the system, Privilege is the third feature from provocative British director Peter Watkins, a filmmaker whose unique Verite-style and oppositional themes have met with controversy throughout his career.

****

Peter Watkins is the supreme master and very nearly the inventor of the pseudo-documentary, which he uses as an unorthodox way of recounting history or projecting contemporary trends into the near-future. This dystopian New Yorker release is about the fascist takeover of Great Britain, with a duped and manipulated messianic rock singer (Paul Jones, lead singer of Manfred Mann in his first film role) used as a political as well as marketing tool. This comes from Watkins’ greatest period to date, which also produced Culloden (1964) and The War Game (1965). The latter two films have recently been issued on DVD, and so have the subsequently made The Gladiators (1969) and Punishment Park (1971)—both of which, along with The War Game, also qualify as SF, so a long-overdue rediscovery of early Watkins is already in progress. I therefore assume that the only thing preventing us so far from having this ferocious satire on DVD is the fact that, unlike the others, it was released by a major Hollywood studio—-and didn’t fare well at the boxoffice in 1967, when the public wasn’t ready for it Let’s hope that some enlightened New Yorker executive realizes that it’s hour has finally come and does something about it.

Excerpt from Jonathan Rosenbaum's article on 10 Neglected Science Fiction Films on DVDBeaver.com located HERE.

Posters

Theatrical Release: February 28th, 1967

Reviews        More Reviews        DVD Reviews

Comparison:

New Yorker Video / Project X - Region 0 - NTSC vs. BFI (Flipside #007) - Region 2 - PAL vs. BFI (Flipside #007) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

Big thanks to Gary Tooze for the New Yorker Video / Project X Screen Caps!

1) New Yorker Video / Project X - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT

2) BFI (Flipside #007) - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) BFI (Flipside #007) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

DVD Box Covers

 

 

Distribution

New Yorker Video / Project X

Region 0 - NTSC

BFI
Region 2 - PAL
BFI
Region 'B' -
Blu-ray
Runtime 1:42:48 1:38:41 (4% PAL speedup) 1:42:52
Video

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.29 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.14 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

Disc Size: 33,469,672,816 bytes

Feature Size: 24,533,541,312 bytes Average Bitrate: 31.80 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC 1080P

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

New Yorker Video / Project X

 

Bitrate:

BFI (Flipside #007)

Bitrate:

 

BFI (Flipside #007) Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0)

English (Dolby Digital 2.0)

English (LPCM 2.0)
Subtitles English, French, None English, None English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: New Yorker Video / Project X

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• Wolf Koenig, Roman Kroitor short - Lonely Boy - 1962 - 26:36
• Trailer
• Stills and poster gallery
• Peter Watkins filmography
• 40-page liner notes booklet with essays by Joseph Gomez and Barry Keith Grant, plus a self-interview

DVD Release Date: January 25th, 2010
Keep Case

Chapters 16

Release Information:
Studio: BFI

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• Original Privilege trailer
• The Diary of an Unknown Soldier: in this compelling short, a young soldier preparing for combat in the trenches of the First World War shares his innermost feelings (16:21)
• The Forgotten Faces: a gripping newsreel-style account of the peoples' uprising in Hungary, 1956, given forceful authenticity by Watkins' unique approach (18:08)
• Extensive illustrated booklet with essays by Peter Watkins, film historian Robert Murphy, and Watkin

DVD Release Date: January 25th, 2010
Keep Case

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio: BFI

 

Disc Size: 33,469,672,816 bytes

Feature Size: 24,533,541,312 bytes Average Bitrate: 31.80 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC 1080P

 

 

Edition Details:
• Original Privilege trailer
• The Diary of an Unknown Soldier: in this compelling short, a young soldier preparing for combat in the trenches of the First World War shares his innermost feelings (16:21)
• The Forgotten Faces: a gripping newsreel-style account of the peoples' uprising in Hungary, 1956, given forceful authenticity by Watkins' unique approach (18:08)
• Extensive illustrated booklet with essays by Peter Watkins, film historian Robert Murphy, and Watkin

Blu-ray Release Date: May 17th, 2010
Standard (UK)
Blu-ray Case

Chapters 12

 

Comments

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Update: BFI BD: May 2010 Well, we can easily declare the new Blu-ray edition of "Privilege" from the BFI to be the overall best edition available although instances of edge-enhancement become more noticeable (see last capture) in the higher resolution. Fortunately, it's not blanked across the entire transfer and is less enough in intensity, for long stretches, as not to be fatally impinging upon the presentation.

The audio makes a switch from Dolby Digital 2.0 to LPCM 2.0, using the platform's superior audio abilities to further bump up to the film's amazing soundtrack. The extras and the menus are the same from the SD, but there is something going on with the image that bears mentioning. As you can see from the captures below, all three editions have slightly different framing. Although all three editions use roughly a 1.85:1 ratio, there can be some significant difference between the three. Generally the most information comes with the Blu-ray, but the scene in the fifth capture drops from 1.85:1 to 1.80:1 on the Blu-ray. Yet this scene remains intact in its original aspect ratio for the other two releases. I'm not sure why this is the case, but I suspect that it has something to do with the delay that kept this from being released last January. We were told then that there were problems with some of the film elements that needed more work, but the booklet states that the transfer comes from the original print. I'll update if I hear anything more on the issue. Despite this and the infrequent, but egregious, edge-enhancement this is still significantly ahead of both DVD counterparts.

 - Brian Montgomery and Gary Tooze

Addition: BFI Standard Definition '10: Let me begin by echoing Gary's comment that you should see this film! While, unlike Gary, I haven't seen enough of Watkins's films to comment on its place in his oeuvre, I can tell you that watching this film made for a very powerful experience. Now, I should note that this flipside release differs from the other two that came out on the same day in that 1) it's region 2 locked, and 2) the Blu-ray edition of the film has been delayed, but should be released later this year. Those mulling over which edition to purchase should keep in mind that if their track record is any indication, then the Blu-ray edition should look and sound absolutely gorgeous. However, the same can be said of this gem. Gone are the interlacing difficulties of the New Yorker/Project X release (see the ring in capture 2 and the upper left part of the hair in 7 for example). Other than that, the two standard definition prints seem to look remarkably alike. While I can't comment on the quality of the extras found in the previous release, the ones here are quite good. The short films by Watkins are both excellent and the lush illustrated booklet (clocking in at 28 pages this time) is a veritable treasure trove for those that wanted to learn more about the release. Given the BFI's progressive transfer, I've got to give them the edge here, and cannot wait for this to come out in high definition! Bravo BFI, another wonderful job done!

 - Brian Montgomery

ON THE NEW YORKER DVD: This is a 'Project X' production from Oliver Groom and all the titles he has done have been exemplary. I also have met Oliver and believe that this is the absolute best this dual-layered - anamorphic transfer could look with the elements he was supplied. It's only flaw is that it appears to be interlaced (see last large capture). The times indicate a correct theatrical (NTSC) source so I am sure it is not from an unconverted PAL master. It maintains some of the film grain and colors are fairly strong. Detail is quite acceptable given the film is over 40 years old. It also looks reasonably clean considering. For my viewing this New Yorker DVD package represented Watkin's film very well. 

The 2.0 channel audio also did the job adequately seemingly from a clean and clear source. There are optional English or French subtitles available supporting the spoken dialogue of Privilege.

There are some good supplements - through the National Film Board of Canada - Wolf Koenig and Roman Kroitor made a great 26 minute short documentary, entitled Lonely Boy, focusing on Paul Anka's phenomenal star effect on teen age girls. It's a bit artistic as well and works at just the right levels. I think this was a magnificent inclusion to the disc considering the main feature. There is also a trailer, stills galleries (posters etc.) a static screen Watkins bio and a wonderful 40-page  liner notes booklet with essays by Joseph Gomez and Barry Keith Grant, plus a self-interview with Watkins.

Great package and a very welcome film to DVD (see Jonathan's Rosenbaum's desirous request in the opening paragraph). I wish the feature was progressive but am more grateful that this gem is now available and we strongly recommend people see Privilege soon - this DVD is a perfect opportunity! It may be my favorite Watkins film I have seen - thanks NY'er and Oliver Groom! 

Gary W. Tooze

 



DVD Menus
(
New Yorker Video / Project X - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT vs. BFI (Flipside #007) - Region 2 - PAL - RIGHT)
 

 


 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Screen Captures

 

1) New Yorker Video / Project X - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) BFI (Flipside #007) - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) BFI (Flipside #007) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) New Yorker Video / Project X - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) BFI (Flipside #007) - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) BFI (Flipside #007) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) New Yorker Video / Project X - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) BFI (Flipside #007) - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) BFI (Flipside #007) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) New Yorker Video / Project X - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) BFI (Flipside #007) - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) BFI (Flipside #007) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) New Yorker Video / Project X - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) BFI (Flipside #007) - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) BFI (Flipside #007) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) New Yorker Video / Project X - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) BFI (Flipside #007) - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) BFI (Flipside #007) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) New Yorker Video / Project X - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) BFI (Flipside #007) - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) BFI (Flipside #007) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Edge Enhancement Halos visible (zoomed-in below)

 


 

Report Card:

 

Image:

BFI Blu-ray

Sound:

BFI Blu-ray

Extras: -----

 
DVD Box Covers

 

 

Distribution

New Yorker Video / Project X

Region 0 - NTSC

BFI
Region 2 - PAL
BFI
Region 'B' -
Blu-ray


 

 




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