A terrific companion piece to writer/director Bill Condon's masterful bio-pic Kinsey (my thoughts on which may be found here), the "American Experience" documentary Kinsey spends 90 minutes delving into the life and times of one of America's most notorious and controversial academics - Alfred P. Kinsey.
Directed by Barak Goodman and John Maggio and narrated by Campbell Scott, Kinsey details the man whose 1948 book "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male" hit the American consciousness like the proverbial atomic bomb. Given that sex is so prevalent in modern America, it's difficult to imagine a society that would be shocked by statistics revealing people's comfort with masturbation and premarital intercourse - but there was indeed a time. By splicing newsreel footage in with recently conducted interviews, the filmmakers are able to construct a somewhat unbiased portrait of the Indiana University professor who revolutionized the national conversation with his unblinking revelations about Americans' sex lives.
The documentary presents a heretofore unseen side of Kinsey's life and work, as the filmmakers were granted unprecendented access to the exhaustive archives at the Kinsey Institute in Indiana. Another highlight of the film is the interviews conducted with members of Kinsey's original research team, his daughters, his biographers and even some of the interview subjects that Kinsey spoke with for both his "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male" and "Sexual Behavior in the Human Female" works.
Goodman and Maggio largely let those who knew and have studied Kinsey tell the story of a highly contradictory man - a conservative man of science who pushed sexual boundaries by being an academic rebel. Kinsey functions as a primer for those unfamiliar with the man or perhaps as edifying context for those wishing to know more about one of the most polarizing academic figures in modern times.
Kinsey is presented in a crisp, clear 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Much of the archival material is understandably shabby, but the modern day interviews are vibrant and free of defect. A very nice looking picture (excluding, of course, that vintage footage).
Dolby 2.0 stereo is the only audio option available and it's perfectly serviceable. The more aged footage sounds clear and as befits recently created material, the modern day interviews are appropriately warm and smooth.
No extras are included on the disc - which is a shame. One would hope that with the filmmakers being given such access that perhaps some archival material, separate from that found in the film, could be included on the disc, but alas, in keeping with other "American Experience" releases, there's nothing to be found.
Should you have any further questions after viewing Condon's film, this "American Experience" documentary would be the first place to turn - a thorough, involving film about a polarizing figure in our nation's history, Kinsey is easily recommended for a rental and would make a good blind buy for fans of Condon's film who want to learn more. Recommended.