Privilege (1967)

What a striking blast of inventive technique this is. Nobody could wield a documentary approach for fictional purposes like Peter Watkins. This story of the creation of a pop messiah for the purposes of political totalitarianism is wildly ahead of its time and bracing. It’s always jarring when a film this bold, unique and stylish can remain obscure enough to feel like a titanic discovery for whoever watches it. It’s the kind of film that throws you through a wide-eyed experience and leaves you wondering: why isn’t everybody talking about this movie all the time? Only thing that would make it better is a “This Film Should Be Played Loud!” title card at the start. Good advice for an assaultive movie that demands to be heard at full volume.

Sidenote: I read an interview recently with Brady Corbet where he says he considered using Peter Watkins to narrate Vox Lux before he approached Willem Dafoe. Oh how I wish he followed through on that impulse. In the meantime there’s Privilege which more than doubles up as Peter Watkins’ Vox Lux.

Watched on BFI blu-ray

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