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American Experience: Kinsey
American Experience Kinsey
Actors: Campbell Scott, Kenneth Anger, John Bancroft, Bob Bayer, Alice Binkley
Directors: Barak Goodman, John Maggio
Genres: Art House & International, Television, Documentary, Mystery & Suspense, Military & War
NR     2005     1hr 30min

Alfred Kinsey was a little-known biologist when, in the 1940s, he began compiling data from thousands of interviews about the sexual practices of men and women. The results of that research were the explosive "Kinsey Repor...  more

     
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Movie Details

Actors: Campbell Scott, Kenneth Anger, John Bancroft, Bob Bayer, Alice Binkley
Directors: Barak Goodman, John Maggio
Creators: Barak Goodman, Caroline Harting, Catherine Allan, Glenn Fukushima, Gregory Shea
Genres: Art House & International, Television, Documentary, Mystery & Suspense, Military & War
Sub-Genres: Art House & International, Television, Biography, Mystery & Suspense, Military & War
Studio: Pbs (Direct)
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen,Widescreen
DVD Release Date: 05/17/2005
Original Release Date: 02/14/2005
Theatrical Release Date: 02/14/2005
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 1hr 30min
Screens: Color,Full Screen,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 5
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Documentary imitates art
Jeffery Mingo | Homewood, IL USA | 05/27/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is the first PBS documentary where I've seen them start by warning, "This may be unsuitable for some audiences." This documentary is so true to the film "Kinsey" that it almost just replaces biographers for actors. Laura Linney did Mrs. Kinsey a favor because in real life she was far less glamorous and a little more physically squat. Kinsey's real-life daughter are interviewed here and they are respectable old ladies now. The researcher's bisexuality and practice of masochism are not swept under the rug here. Unlike the film which just ends abruptly, this documentary rightfully suggests that Kinsey helped to pave the way for the sexual revolution of the 1960s. Also unlike the film, this documentary noted that Kinsey interviewed few African Americans in his work. Oddly enough, the anthropologist Margaret Mead, also bisexual, criticized his work when she herself said bisexuality is more common than Americans believe and her work has been condemned as racist and projectionist. This would be a nice work for all sex-positive activists and scientific researchers to see."
Unsparing and Informative
John P Bernat | Kingsport, TN USA | 07/26/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"If you've seen the recent movie ("the filme"), you'll want to check this out.

What I learned was that the film stayed fairly faithful to Kinsey's actual life experiences, with a few key omissions for dramatic purposes:

1. Kinsey's death is not treated in the film as it actually occurred. Actually, the movie pretty much avoids the issue entirely. The dang movie just had to have a happy ending.

2. Kinsey's ethical lapses are not treated objectively in the film. Gaps in his taxonomy and statistical technique are explained in the documentary, warts and all.

3. His wife's devotion to him is underplayed in the movie, as is Kinsey's more extensive personal experiments in sex.

Watch this documentary for a little balance..."
Science is Sexy
Harley Quinn | New York | 03/17/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This was a great documentary. It was objective for the most part painting kinsey as neither a hero nor a villain. Too often I find that Kinsey is portrayed as one or the other. He played a large part in revolutionizing sexual research as we know it today but as the documentary showed this came at a price. His statistical methods were questionable as well as some of his methods of research. His level of authority and interactions with his employees were also questionable. He had his own agenda which clearly tampered with his objectivity as a scientist. But at a time when Americans were sexually repressed he was a voice of reason. He preached tolerance and acceptance and made it OK to talk about sex in the open and let it be known that it is normal to be sexual and nothing to be ashamed of. But the documentary also showed how Kinsey put science before everything. Even when it came to his family and making moral judgements at times.
But I felt like the documentary also glossed over a few subjects that could have been explored in deeper detail such as his marriage to Clara and his relationship with his children which was barely mentioned. Also, they never really said what specific masochistic tendencies he indulged in especially after he became depressed. The latter part of his life after the publication of his second volume of work was covered too briefly. I thought what his colleagues had to say on how he didn't include love in the "mechanics" of sex was also interesting and how he seemed to be detached. Ironic how the "father of sex" couldn't make love.....I would recommend the documentary and the movie with Liam Nieson as a complementary package. Whereas the movie portrayed him almost as the hero of sexual research, the documentary goes on to show that there were a few chinks in the knight's armor but without demonizing him."
A true pioneer
Anyechka | Rensselaer, NY United States | 04/02/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Though there are a few things left out in this 90-minute film (such as Dr. Kinsey's relationship with his children), most of the important aspects of his life and work are presented in an in-depth, informative, and interesting way. One can't underestimate the importance Dr. Kinsey had on the 20th century. Before he published his two ground-breaking reports on sexual behavior in the human male and the human female, society was incredibly sexually repressive and ignorant. The things he taught about in his class on marriage, human sexuality, and birth control in 1938 and 1939 at Indiana University seem rather tame and normal today, but back then it was a scandal when word got out just what he was teaching his students, particularly because he said that the only abnormal sexual behaviors were abstinence, celibacy, and delayed marriage.

The neo-Puritans of today who wax nostalgic for a past that never really was clearly have no idea just what it was really like back then. Back when Dr. Kinsey and his associates were conducting their interviews and doing their research for the reports, the only form of sex that was considered normal and moral was between a man and a woman within marriage (and then only intercourse, not any other varieties of sex). Things such as oral sex, masturbation, and homosexuality were criminalised and considered deranged instead of perfectly normal natural sexual expressions. A lot of people (particularly women) who were brought up sheltered from any knowledge of sex or told that it was dirty and sinful had no idea what to do once they were married and finally allowed to do it, as though they were suddenly supposed to turn into skilled receptive partners who knew exactly what they were doing and what they liked. Dr. Kinsey himself couldn't even consummate his own marriage for several months, not until his wife had a corrective surgery. People viewed sexuality in terms of morality and immorality instead of science or one's own personal convictions, and placed so many strict limits on what was and wasn't considered to be acceptable, basically dictating to everyone how to behave in the privacy of their own homes based on an arbitrary sense of morality. And when the report on the human male came out in 1947, the public for the first time discovered that a lot of men visited prostitutes, had had affairs, regularly masturbated, dreamt about sex, had had gay experiences, and had had premarital sex. The 1953 report on the human female caused a huge backlash, however, because people didn't want to be confronted with the proof that women were actually sexual beings instead of angelic wives and mothers who had no sexual desires and didn't even like sex. Unfortunately, Dr. Kinsey didn't live long enough to see all of the liberation movements of the Sixties and Seventies, when his work would be fully validated and society would finally snap out of its Puritanical repression.

The film also explores some of the controversies in his work, such as some of his rather unorthodox methods (like taping his associates having sex with one another), how he used data from the journal of a pedophile as standard information about sexual responses and behavior of young boys, and how he tended to interview people who were white, outside of the mainstream, and college students, instead of getting a more broad sampling of the entire population, even if some of those people would have given less earth-shattering responses to the survey. It also explores how he viewed human sexuality and his research as a science, a part of nature, and for that reason didn't feel the need to impose any moral limitations on it, such as saying that pedophilia is wrong or that sex is about love, not just biological urges, and that having affairs with one's associates just to further the research might not be the best idea.

Overall, it's a fascinating look into one of the people who had the most impact on the 20th century, helping to bring America out of the Victorian era and into modernity, into an era where morality is a matter of one's conscience, not something arbitrarily dictated to one by a bunch of self-appointed authorities with a very black and white view of the world."