Privilege is a 1967 film that just became available on DVD last month, and I was fortunate to snag it rather quickly on Netflix. This film is just awesome, flaunting a combination of aesthetic elements that recall films like The Magic Christian, Tommy, Velvet Goldmine and Nicholas Roeg’s Performance. I would recommend Privilege to anyone who enjoyed one or more of those films.
Part dark comedy and part scathing sociopolitical satire, Privilege was literally decades ahead of its time. Briefly, the film takes place “in the near future” (1970), where the British government is using Steven Shorter, a popular rock star (played by the very handsome Manfred Mann front man/singer Paul Jones) to channel the impulses of rebellious teenagers. While his “duties” include promoting/endorsing commercial products and shilling for public service announcements, Steven is referred to in an opening voice over as “The most desperately loved entertainer in the world.” So you know he’s been set up with some big shoes to fill.
As the government re-engineers Steven’s image to assist in more tightly controlling teenage society, he eventually rebels, with disquieting results. ‘60s Supermodel Jean Shrimpton co-stars as Vanessa, a sultry, uber-mod painter commissioned to paint Steven’s portrait, who soon becomes his only ally. “Swinging London” imagery is in abundance throughout the film and there’s an exceptional original soundtrack featuring Paul Jones providing his own vocals. As a classic film that thoroughly entertains as well as making you really think about how we are all manipulated through the media, Privilege gets two thumbs up from The Worley Gig!