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Dirty Pictures

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Editorial Reviews


Alexander Sasha Shulgin is the scientist behind more than 200 psychedelic compounds including MDMA, more commonly known as Ecstasy. Considered to be one of the greatest chemists of the 20th century, Sasha s vast array of discoveries have had a profound impact in the field of psychedelic research, making him a subject of fascination and controversy among fellow scientists and a folk hero to recreational users of psychedelics. Dirty Pictures uncovers the lifework of Dr. Shulgin and takes viewers inside his Northern California home where he lives with his wife of 40 years and continues to carry out experiments in a makeshift laboratory. Director Étienne Sauret likewise delves into the broader world of psychedelic research where the fields of chemistry, neuroscience and philosophy intersect and investigates whether or not this particular field could aid in solving the deepest mysteries of the human mind.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Alexander Shulgin
  • Directors: Etienne Sauret
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Breaking Glass Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: November 22, 2011
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,173 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By William Rafti on May 4, 2012
Format: DVD
I mainly watch documentaries and informative films and left `dirty pictures' thinking, "what was that?" I think the root of the problem is a director who didn't try to direct anyone to make this a film about the Shulgins (or any specific message), and so people started off by describing their own work, and finished with their self-reflections. The result is that everyone in the film is a star, and instead of a flowing story that builds on a central theme you get it all piled up like so many short stories chopped up and shuffled into one deck.

Some of the clips were taken from other documentaries that were freely available on the Internet even before this film was released, so some of the Shulgin content in this film is actually being resold at an inflated price. Even the name `dirty pictures' is a serious let down, if anything it's misleading, and at best it's a title that was used by MGM for a film they released on DVD in 2000.

My painful honesty is pretty much lost on the Shulgins huge and loving fan base; if you don't like the Shulgins then you probably don't like people in general, but this isn't just about them, it's also about many other people which forces it's scope to be shallow, and for that the film seems to run too long; and not far enough into the lives of the amazing Shulgins.

I think the worst thing a documentary can do is to move the general public to indifference so for that the film earns one star, but because I have a deep affection for the Shulgins I'm adding on one star to the film for them actually being in it; it's my personal bias.
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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Douglas Maclean on November 7, 2011
Format: DVD
In most cases the title of a movie relates directly to the content of the film. Other times it may be a purposeful misdirection to heighten interest with perspective members of the audience. This just happens to be the case with a documentary recently released by Broken Glass Pictures, `Dirty Pictures'. Your natural inclination would be to think that this film is about pornography or perhaps risqué art but you would be far off from the subject matter of this insightful and eminently entertaining movie. This documentary considers the life and work of a name that is most likely unfamiliar to you, Alexander "Sasha" Shulgin. As an organic chemist he was responsible for the proliferation of a compound whose technical name is Methylenedioxymenthamphetamine. Once again the name may elude you but it is reasonably certain you know it by its acronym or at least its common street name, MDMA, Ecstasy, or simply `X'. There is a lot of just cause to vilify this substance as recreation use and abuse of the drug has accelerated the destruction of many lives leaving a considerable death toll in its wake.

Typically there are several approaches a documentary filmmaker can take ranging from humorous to straight arrow serious. The content can also be either colored to suite a particular editorially view point or stick to the facts as if the movie was presenting legal testimony. In the case of the documentarian Etienne Sauret his style is a refreshing combination of previously unconsidered facts presented in a home movie style. This has the effect of seamlessly blending some technical details that brought me back to graduate studies in Organic and bio-chemistry.
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25 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Ddanimal on February 1, 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I am very interested the subject matter of this film, but the film is terrible. I have read Shulgins' books and many others. I was really looking forward to this movie when I bought it.

This film is one of the worst films I have ever seen.

The editing is bizarre and disorienting. The movie does not flow. The movie is basically a collection of video clips, randomly cut and mixed together with no sense of proper timing or coherence. The result is a jarring experience that is hard to watch. I felt it was giving me a headache.

Making matters worse, there was no narration or story flow. Some of the clips had no apparent connection to the subject matter.

We made it through about half the film before turning it off.

Its a shame that such fascinating subject matter was treated with such carelessness.

Seriously, this is the worst documentary ever made.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By David Holubetz on September 18, 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
First let me say that the Shulgins get 5 stars for their lives and all the goodness Sasha has brought into the world. He is a brilliant scientist with the best kind of creative inquiring mind - the kind of person so desperately needed in our messed up world. I am thankful this film was made, as it gives a glimpse into their realm that one might not ever be able to have without the benefit of video.

But then I have to say that the documentary is pretty weak. There is not much content, just a rambling walk through their homestead. The scenes seem very random and unconnected. Many times I was wondering if they had just left the camera on by mistake. But surely the editor would have picked the best stuff ...

So I am left to conclude that the film was not edited. Just a bunch of footage assembled with no real plan or narrative. Footage from Burning Man, from the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, some of a raid on their lab which never gets explained. Lots of side stories and interviews with others in the field of psychopharmacology and neuroscience. Some of that is interesting and some of it is a waste of time. Watching the one guy play bad guitar in his garage while he tells you he has never taken psychedelics was the minus three point for me.

Still, there are some redeeming moments. I'm trying to tell myself that the director was French, and so it has a European feel to it - an art film. Not sure if I'll be able to convince myself of this or not. If you are really into the whole altered states scene and the people who are behind the powders and pills, you should check this out. If you are looking for a great documentary film which follows the typical biographical narrative with concise interviews and cool images set to music and such, this will leave you dissappointed.
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