影評人之選──思覺邊緣:誰主瘋騷 Titicut Folliesnew


Choice of Bryan Chang

誰主瘋騷 Titicut Follies
1967 | 美國USA | 黑白B&W | 84min | DCP
In English with Chinese and English subtitles

導演 Director:弗德烈懷斯曼Frederick Wiseman
攝影 Cinematographer:約翰馬歇爾John Marshall
剪接 Editor:弗德烈懷斯曼 Frederick Wiseman、艾拉姆特 Alyne Model

1967 德國曼漢姆-海德堡國際影展最佳電影
1967 Mannheim Film Ducat, International Filmfestival Mannheim-Heidelberg
1967 意大利波波里國際紀錄片電影節最佳人權關注電影
1967 Best Film Dealing with the Human Condition, Festival Dei Popoli

這是沒有虛構情節、沒有隱含救贖式淨化意味的《飛越瘋人院》;或剝去寓言的《猿人襲地球》。 ──影評人謝夫佩維爾

This was One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest without the fiction or implied redemptive catharsis. Or Planet of the Apes stripped of allegory.  ──film critic Geoff Pevere

直接電影大師弗德烈懷斯曼的處女作。懷斯曼當年只是法律系年輕教授,帶學生參觀麻省一座囚禁精神病患犯人的醫院/監獄時萌生拍片想法。取得院長授權和在場護衛的口頭同意後,他夥同攝影師捕捉「我與瘋癲最近的距離」。對鏡頭缺乏警覺,警衛如常調侃,醫生循例問症,當中馬虎診斷、粗魯欺凌病患之日常冰山一角被拍下來;相反囚犯卻曉得配合鏡頭,一段獨白、一個凝視、一記喊叫,見證錯亂人生分崩離析的最後瘋騷。當權者發覺醜態畢露,以侵犯私隱之名禁止公開放映,實是政治決定,二十五年後被拍攝者相繼離世才獲解禁。Titicut是原住民對附近湯頓河的稱呼,獄方稱同樂晚會為「Titicut Follies」,懷斯曼借作戲名實在有旁觀者清、當局者迷的況味:誰主導表演、誰在表演、誰超越了表演,皆值得斟酌。

titicut follies

Before he became the master of direct cinema, Frederick Wiseman as a young lawyer has taken his students for visit at the Massachusetts' Bridgewater State Hospital, a facility for the criminally insane. He was inspired to make a film in the facility, to "capture madness up close" with his cinematographer. Seemingly unaware of the camera, the guards mocked the patients and the doctors made sloppy diagnosis as usual. Bullying also took place inside. On the other hand, the patients knew how to work with the camera, using monologues, glares, shouts as coquettish displays of their confused, collapsed lives. When the authorities realised what the film exposed, they attempted to block its release using privacy as an excuse. 25 years after what was surely a political move, the film was finally cleared for release when the patients in the film passed away. Titicut was the indigenous name for the nearby Taunton River, and "Titicut Follies" is named after the talent show put on by the inmates. Wiseman's choice of the title has somehow kept a distance with a sense of self-awareness: Who is directing the performances? Who are the performers? Who is beyond performance? These are questions all worth considering.






The Unreal Reality

 It's difficult for documentary filmmakers, especially those in the style of direct cinema and cinéma vérité, to not feel like they're going for some kind of "jackpot". After all, getting footage of dramatic and extreme incidents is all about luck. In this sense, the mentally ill has a high degree of malleability because they're most likely to lose their composure, and all the filmmakers have to do is to capture them in time. Madness isn't a permanent state; it comes and goes elusively. Compared to feature films, the "real madness" that documentaries claim to capture is a form of self-deception. What is captured may just reflect some kind of discriminatory gaze, which touches on the issues of power and morality in filmmaking.

In Titicut Follies, the reality of the mentally ill criminals was created by their incarceration. Some of the film's most infamous footage include forced feeding by tube and verbal abuse by male attendants. The film's historical fate and the attention it got revealed the uneasy reality of incarceration, transforming Wiseman into a hero of social reform. At the end of the film, a title card says that treatment of patients in hospitals has been improving since 1966. Wiseman was ordered to add this text by the courts. This shift to discussing humane treatment of the mentally ill moved the film's focus, letting its ideological influence overshadow its aesthetic achievements. Suddenly, Wiseman's creative starting point are shoved aside.

I believe that Wiseman must've come up with a simple answer that wouldn't get him in trouble when the hospital staff members questioned out of curiosity his intention to film in the facility. I guess that answer would be that he hoped to capture the reality of the mentally ill from an academic perspective. While filming, Wiseman likely just told the staff in the hospital to just go about their daily routines and to treat his team as "flies on the wall". Was this truly his core belief, or was it just a strategy? In one scene, Jim tries to squat and lets out a scream after returning to his solitary cell. Was this the "jackpot" of the film? Did Wiseman really get it by chance, or was he just trying his best despite knowing that there's an irreconcilable distance between him and reality? Or was he aware that his documentaries cannot be truly authentic, and that the reality he'd been pursuing was merely relative in the environment he inhabited?

Bryan Chang

24/11(日 Sun)2:30pm

香港電影資料館電影院 Cinema, Hong Kong Film Archive


Post-screening talk with Bryan Chang in Cantonese

7/12(六 Sat)7:30pm

香港電影資料館電影院 Cinema, Hong Kong Film Archive


Post-screening talk with documentary filmmaker *Augustine Lam and Bryan Chang in Cantonese

*Tammy Cheung will not be able to attend due to circumstances, post-screening talk guest speaker will be replaced by documentary filmmaker Augustine Lam