Academic journal article Framework

Benefit of the Doubt, Review, Variety, 1967

Academic journal article Framework

Benefit of the Doubt, Review, Variety, 1967

Article excerpt

Principal appeal is for theatre buffs, but has added interest as an individual British view of the Vietnam war. Unlikely for theatrical market.

A fair sampling of scenes from the Royal Shakespeare Company's stage production of US is offered in this film, intercut with black- and- white interviews with director Peter Brook and some of his actors, who discuss the po liti cal and artistic framework of the pre sen ta tion.

A substantial portion of the potential audience, if reaction at N.Y. festival showing is an indication, will find this dull, but for Americans interested in current theatrical trends it could be a must, since it's their only current opportunity to see one of the most adventuresome and controversial stage productions of the past few years. A discussion of its merits as theatre may be outside the scope of a film review, so suffice it is to say that viewers are treated to glimpses of such events as the on- stage burning of a live butterfl y, the portrayal of the Viet nam ese nation by a writhing near- naked actor, and a rousing song about how, in Brook's words, "The Americans are able to blow the legs offchildren and then, with true, deep conviction, sew them back again."

It may be that Benefit of the Doubt fails as a film precisely because US is so specifically a theatre piece, and it might have been wiser for Peter Whitehead to acknowledge the presence of his proscenium and simply seat his camera in the front row. …

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