(director: Frederick Wiseman; cinematographer: John Marshall; editors: Frederick Wiseman/Alyne Mode; Runtime:  84; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Frederick Wiseman; Zipporah Films/the Bridgewater Film Company; 1967-B/W)

“It’s a difficult film to watch or ever forget.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

This significant documentary was the first film made by the legendary lawyer-turned-documentarian, Frederick Wiseman (“City Hall”/”Public Housing”). The film has recently been honored to be placed in the National Film Registry, and was shown on TCM. It’s a difficult film to watch or ever forget, showing the filmmaker’s 29 day visit to the Bridgewater State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, in Massachusetts. It was the only pic not a dirty sex film that was ever banned. The state’s Supreme Court banned it (right after it premiered at the New York Film Festival in 1967) on the grounds that it violated the privacy of inmates, as several inmates were shown naked and abused by the prison staff (guards, orderlies, psychiatrists & social workers). It was banned for 25 years until the ban was overturned.

The film had no interviews, narration, or onscreen text. The images showed us everything that was relevant. We can see for ourselves the inhumane treatment is probably making the insane inmates worse and not better.

Titicut is the Indian name for the area around Bridgewater.