Retro Active Critique #5
Tagline: "The Raw, Shocking Movie of a Pop Singer Who Makes it Big!" Films like this one are so rare, they're hard to locate and watch. Being a Jean Shrimpton fan, I found out that she appeared in one movie, called "Privilege". That is why I sought to buy a copy a few years ago. I managed, but from a rare, cult film website out of the U.K. The quality is really, pardon the expression, shite... but at least I was able to watch and experience this amazing film somehow. There seem to be a few copies for sale on Amazon now, for a hefty price. I ordered one a while back and it is still not available. So it seems to be out there, but not really, because I'm still waiting for it.
'Privilege' proved a great discovery. It is a political satire on pop stars, religion, fame and government. It also captures the frenzy of what has become reality television. But this was made in 1967... Visionary. The songs are quite over the top and fun, and for anyone who appreciates the swinging sixties and mod culture, it's a blast. Can be heavy and heady at times for the novice, but I enjoy irreverent humor. The film pokes fun at fanaticism of any kind, be it religious or Beatlemania, and how governments and corporations might like to take advantage of that mass appeal. There's obviously truth to this, then and now.
The character Steven Shorter (Paul Jones of the pop group Manfred Mann) is the first government-owned pop star and despite his rise to fame and its rewards, he is a product. He has little freedom, if any. He struggles with that for some time, only to give in to it finally. Jean Shrimpton, the model, does a decent job at acting here portraying Steven's girlfriend called Vanessa Ritchie. She is so stunning it wouldn't have mattered how she performed, but she handles her role beyond expectations. There is a great deal of religious symbolism, less in criticism than in humor. It's mainly a well-observed, intellectual study of society. And it's observations are strikingly aligned with our current experience. Which again, is impressive.
Of all the songs, I cherish this one most, a rocking version of "Onward Christian Soldiers". It cracks me up. The recording studio atmosphere, the religious bigwigs watching closely and the band just totally jamming. It's hilarious. Cool version of the classic hymn, performed by The George Bean Group. ('Onward!')
My real motivation for finding "Privilege" was Jean Shrimpton.