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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Rock Music > Drama > Politics > Comedy > Police State > Media > Peter Watkins’ Privilege (1967/BFI (British Film Institute) Flipside Blu-ray/Region B Import/Science Fiction/Rock Music)

Peter Watkins’ Privilege (1967/BFI (British Film Institute) Flipside Blu-ray/Region B Import/Science Fiction/Rock Music)


Picture: B     Sound: B-     Extras: B-     Film: B+



PLEASE NOTE: This Blu-ray is only available in the U.K. from our friends at BFI and can be ordered from them at the website address link provided below at the end of the review or at finer retailers.  This is a Region B Blu-ray and will only play on Region B or Region Free Blu-ray players, so make certain yours is before ordering.  All the supplements are also in 1080p High Definition.



Out of print for a while in the U.S. on DVD when New Yorker folded, Peter Watkins’ remarkable film Privilege (1967) has surfaced on Blu-ray from BFI Home Video.  If you are unfamiliar with the brilliant, influential film about a future society where pop singer Steven Shorter is becomes a national obsession while dark forces move in to ruin and control a future England, try this link for more details in our coverage of that DVD:





Of course if you do not have a Blu-ray player or your Blu-ray player does not play Region B discs, you might find the U.S. DVD cheap if you are lucky, but prices will continue to be high until someone (Universal perhaps) reissues it on DVD and for the first time on Blu-ray in the U.S., but it is worth getting if you can and does not replace the New Yorker version completely as they have some different extras.



The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image is an improvement in over the U.S. DVD in color, definition and depth, but that does not mean it does not have some age limits and softness (some from manipulation that should not have occurred at the telecine stage) despite all the amazing work that went into fixing and saving it.  Shot by the now-famous cinematographer Peter Suschitzky (the now longtime collaborator of David Cronenberg) in 35mm and for three-strip, dye-transfer Technicolor, this is much closer to what such a print would be like than the U.S. DVD, but with some flaws and color that sometimes is not Technicolor all the way.  At the same time, there are some great demo shots that rise above our rating that make this a solid transfer.  The PCM 2.0 Mono is not bad for its age, sounding better than the Dolby Digital 2.0 48/24 Mono on the U.S. DVD.  I just wish this were at least in simple stereo, but this works well.


Extras are numerous as noted before like the U.S. DVD, but different.  Both include the original trailer for the film and thick booklets inside their respective cases, but the text is different, though they have some of the same technical information, stills and poster art.  Essays this time are by Robert Murphy and John R. Cook, plus we get a William Fowler piece on Watkins and Vic Pratt piece on lead star Paul Jones.  The disc rounds out the goodies with two of Watkins short films.  One is Diary Of An Unknown Soldier (1957), which was included on another also out-of-print U.S. New Yorker DVD of a Watkins film: The Gladiators.  You can read about both at this link:





Finally, there is The Forgotten Faces (1959), a 19-minutes-long documentary directed by Watkins about the 1956 people’s uprising in Hungary that somewhat shows us glimpses of his post-Auteur works that followed his TV science fiction and  documentary work in the 1970s and 1980s.  It was never issued in the U.S. on any of the New Yorker/Project X DVDs or otherwise, so its arrival from anywhere is very welcome indeed.


As for Privilege, it is as relevant as ever and strongly recommended, especially for anyone serious about film and filmmaking.



You can order this Blu-ray at this link:





-   Nicholas Sheffo


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