Titicut Follies  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Titicut Follies is a black and white 1967 documentary film by Frederick Wiseman about the treatment of patients at a psychiatric hospital in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. The title is taken from a talent show put on by the hospital's inmates.

Titicut Follies is widely considered to be a masterpiece of the direct cinema form in documentary film, portraying the existence of occupants of Bridgewater, some of them catatonic, holed up in unlit cells, only periodically washed down with a hose and taken out in order to receive force feeding. It also portrays the indifference and bullying on the part of the institution's staff. As such, it makes an implicit statement about the power of authority and total institutions. The stark black and white photography and unflinching cinéma vérité presentation, make this film a particularly powerful experience.

The film's release was banned (outside of the field of education) in the United States from 1967-1992 by a Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling that, since it was filmed in a hospital, it violated the patients' rights to privacy. Wiseman, the film's director, however, has pointed out that he received permission from all of the people portrayed in the film or else their legal guardian, in this case the superintendent of Bridgewater. He believes that the Massachusetts Government, feeling concerned that it portrayed a state institution in a bad light, took the film out of circulation to protect their own reputation. In 1992, it was allowed to be shown on PBS. The film is now legally available through the distributor (Zipporah Films, Inc.), for purchase or rental on VHS or 16mm film for educational license only.


  • Carolyn Anderson and Thomas W. Bensson. Documentary Dilemmas: Frederick Wiseman's Titicut Follies (Southern Illinois University Press, 1991, ISBN 0-8093-1518-1)
  • Barry Keith Grant and Frederick Wiseman. Five Films by Frederick Wiseman – Titicut Follies, High School, Welfare, High School II, Public Housing (University of California Press, 2006, ISBN 0-520-24456-7)

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Titicut Follies" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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