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Permissive
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • English PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Original Permissive trailer
  • Bread (Stanley Long, 1971, 66 minutes): whilst hitch-hiking back from the Isle of Wight Festival, a group of friends decide to stage their own music event. But how will they afford it?
  • Bread - deleted scenes (13 minutes): newly transferred from the original negative
  • Ave You Got a Male Assistant Please Miss? (Graham Jones, Jon Astley, 1973, 4 minutes) a humorous film in which a permissive couple are given some useful advice
  • Extensive illustrated booklet with contributions by I Q Hunter and Lee Dorrian, and Comus band-members' recollections if working with Lindsay Shonteff

Permissive

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Lindsay Shonteff
Starring: Maggie Stride, Gay Singleton, Gilbert Wynne
1970 | 90 Minutes

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: £23.99 | Series: BFI Flipside | Edition: #9
BFI Video

Release Date: January 25, 2010
Review Date: January 28, 2010

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SYNOPSIS

When Suzy arrives in London to visit an old school friend, she is unwittingly plunged into the ruthless world of the 'groupie'. Fuelled by sex, drugs and jealousy, her new lifestyle fosters in her a cold cynical instinct for survival. But tragedy is never faraway. With its effective blend of gritty location work, brooding flash-forward devices, and a soundtrack by cult acid folk and prog rock legends Comus, Forever More - who also star - and Titus Groan, Permissive is a dark British countercultural artefact that is shot through with grim authenticity.

Discuss the film and Blu-ray here   


PICTURE

BFI presents Permissive, the ninth title in their Flipside series, in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this dual-layer Blu-ray disc. The transfer is presented in 1080p.

The film has a fairly dreary look to it but the high-def transfer still presents it rather well. While a few sequences can look a tad washed out colours look perfectly saturated, with some colours managing to pop off the screen ever so slightly, reds and greens in particular.

The clean up job on this has been spectacular and there is very little left in the way of damage. The transfer is consistently sharp with crisp details and visible film grain, completely retaining its film look. Again BFI have gone far and beyond what one would probably expect for (what I would consider) a little known film. The film’s look is again fairly dreary but the Blu-ray presents it perfectly. Like just about every other release I’ve come across from BFI it looks fantastic and still manages to put some big studio transfers for newer films to shame.

As a note the disc is all-region and should play on all Blu-ray players. It played with no issue on my PS3.

8/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

Audio is okay if nothing special. The lossless mono track sounds a little flat and still has some damage but dialogue is audible and the music that appears in the film has some life to it.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Like previous BFI Flipside titles the supplements found here have very little to do with the main feature other than they might share the same subject matter or relate to a theme or the time period of the film. All of the features are presented in 1080p.

The disc opens with a bizarre theatrical trailer that plays the film off as rather exploitive and it seems obvious that marketers for the film weren’t quite sure what to do with it. The film does have a ring of trying to show the darker side to groupie/hippy/rock/drug/sex counterculture but the trailer seems to amp it up a bit.

Next up is a short 68-minute film called Bread. It’s related somewhat to the main feature only in that it’s about a group of hippies/groupies, though this one is played more as a farce with the protagonists looking to throw their own music festival despite lacking the funds (“bread”) to put it together. Despite the nudity and some (barely) amusing moments I have to admit I found it rather terrible but it had some intriguing elements to it, specifically its move from a typical fiction narrative to documentary look when festival sequences are covered. And I guess after the darker Permissive it was a somewhat welcome lighter piece. It also looks spectacularly good, getting the same kind of loving transfer BFI have given to the main feature.

As a note the booklet points out that the original version of Bread was 85-minutes. BFI wanted to restore the full version of the film but the sound track was missing. Instead they’ve put the film together from that footage but had to use the sound from another cut, meaning sequences without sound have been cut out. But they’ve included the missing material here with 16-minutes of mute outtakes from Bread. While this footage has also been beautifully restored it’s somewhat disappointing the sound is missing since most of the footage is actually from the festival sequences, though again this is no fault of the BFI’s.

The disc features then close with a rather amusing “safe sex ed” feature called ’Ave You Got a Male Assistant Please Miss?. While it starts out in a groaning manner by going over the statistics of unwanted pregnancies and abortions it gets a little better once its male protagonist goes on a quest for a condom. It runs over 4-minutes and has been decently restored as well.

And as usual BFI have included a rather spectacular booklet (NOTE: I am actually reviewing off of a “check disc” and not a finished product. I was sent a colour photocopy of the booklet, which I understand will represent the finished product, but felt I should note this.) First is an excellent essay about Permissive by I Q Hunter going over how the film is not your typical “sexploitation film,” presenting some of the deep themes within it, as well as covering other films in the “genre.” Another essay appears, this one by Lee Dorrian on the music in the film, and then an article about the underground group Comus and their involvement with the film Permissive is also included. The section on Permissive then closes with a bio on director Londsay Shonteff. Vic Pratt then offers an interesting essay on Bread going over the musical acts found within it (and Permissive) and giving it a decent defense I must admit. It’s followed by notes on the history of the many cuts of Bread and the issues with restoring it. The booklet then concludes with a bio for Bread director Stanley A. Long and notes on ’Ave You Got a Male Assistant Please Mess?. As usual it’s a fantastic booklet covering the content of the disc thoroughly, topping even the disc supplements.

Not loaded but the disc supplements are satisfying, possibly even “cool,” despite the fact I didn’t like Bread. The booklet nicely wraps up everything, though, in the end giving a great look into the 70’s British counterculture and the music that came from it.

7/10

CLOSING

I was a little surprised by the film. I was expecting a “sexploitation” piece and while that was more or less what I got it does strive to be more than that with a rather cynical point of view and some interesting editing. As a whole the disc is rather fascinating, also presenting a stunning transfer, and through the film and its supplements it offers a snapshot of a time period. I give it a mild recommendation, but for those that have been more than happy with the Flipside series up to now they’ll more than likely get a thrill out of this release as well.




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