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Obscene

2007

NR CC

OBSCENE is the definitive film biography of Barney Rosset, the influential publisher of Grove Press and the Evergreen Review.

Starring:
Amiri Baraka, Lenny Bruce
Runtime:
1 hour, 37 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Documentary
Director Daniel O'Connor, Neil Ortenberg
Starring Amiri Baraka, Lenny Bruce
Supporting actors William S. Burroughs, Jim Carroll, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Al Goldstein, Erica Jong, Ray Manzarek, John Rechy, Barney Rosset, Ed Sanders, John Sayles, Joseph Strick, Gore Vidal, John Waters
Studio Arthouse Films/Curiously Bright
MPAA rating NR (Not Rated)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Luc REYNAERT on August 2, 2009
Format: DVD
This documentary gives a fair picture of the life of the courageous editor Barney Rosset, the founder of Grove Press, which published such `pornographic' authors as the Marquis de Sade, Henry Miller, William S. Burroughs or D.H. Lawrence (Lady Chatterley's Lover).
From the beginning, his publishing house was a heavy thorn in the eye of the Moral `Majority' (power, not numbers). One sees in this picture even a disgusted and angry US President waving before a TV camera, `obscene' photos distributed by Rosset's press. As always, the Moral `Majority' was and is heavily obsessed by sex, but not by killing in wars. But did porn kill until now one human being on earth? What and where is the `real' pornography?

Barney Rosset was physically threatened and ultimately, his headquarters were bombed (!) by apparently members of a secret service.
He was a true pioneer of free speech, also in sexual matters. Of course, he was interested in sex. Who is not, in a positive or negative sense? In any case, he didn't thrive on the profoundly vulgar standards of the actual adult industry, a multi-billion dollar business built on hundreds of years of sexual repression. As Christopher Hitchens states in his formidable book `God is not great': `god gave man a sexual impulse, only for religion to suppress it.'

This documentary is a must see for all people interested in free speech, in the policies of the Moral `Majority' and in the real nature of mankind.
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Format: Amazon Video Verified Purchase
Worth watching for anyone who enjoys a good doc. Talked about a whole slue of issues: censorship, business, family, history.
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Format: DVD
"Obscene: A Portrait of Barney Rosset and Grove Press" examines the hey day of the controversial publisher that fought the censorship of the 1950s and 1960s to bring D.H. Lawrence's "Lady Chatterley's Lover", Henry Miller's "Tropic of Cancer", and William Burroughs' "Naked Lunch" to American bookshelves. Grove Press' owner during those years was Barney Rosset, a fervent advocate of free speech who also published the "Evergreen Review", which became an outlet for Beat writers and counterculture literati in the 1960s, when its circulation reached 250,000. Rosset has been called "the last maverick in American publishing" and a "smut peddler", both with ample cause. He had a keen sense for the up-and-coming during the staid 1950s and turbulent 1960s which brought success and controversy for Grove Press.

Documentarians Neil Ortenberg and Daniel O'Conner present the history of Grove Press in the context of Barney Rosset's life. The Company's most influential and most-often-in-court years make up the center of the film, which is bookended by Rosset's life before and after his years with Grove Press. Archival footage and contemporary interviews with Barney Rosset, his sons, and authors from Grove's Beat days -such as Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Michael McClure, and John Rechy- offer a variety of perspectives on the post-War cultural revolution to which Grove contributed. Veteran employees of Grove Press give us insight into the company itself.

"Obscene" presents an overview of what Grove Press and Barney Rosset did for free speech in America. But its coverage of Rosset seems static and superficial, and it is often not clear exactly when things happened at Grove, how, or why. The lack of basic who-what-where-when-why information often left me frustrated and unable to place events in context.
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It was interesting but just ok. There is really not much more else to say about the movie. Its ok..
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