"Naked States" is one of the highest-rated documentaries that HBO has aired. The documentary focuses on photographer Spencer Tunick, whose goal is to photograph (in black & white) ordinary people naked throughout 48 states as he drives from state-to-state. Surprisingly, the photographer rarely gets in trouble, with the exception of the opening of the documentary, where Tunick is lead away by police after getting 100 people to strip and lay in the street in Times Square.
Yes, given the subject matter, "Naked States" does have a conisderable amount of nudity, but the documentary thankfully doesn't simply focus on the nudity as some sort of selling point. Instead, in-between the filmmakers focusing on Tunick attempting to convince people to pose for him, the documentary explores issues behind artistic freedom, politics, self image and also chats about things like what it takes to get into a gallery.
Why do these people pose for Tunick, who is essentially a complete stranger that comes up to them and asks them to pose nude - not only nude, but often nude in the middle of the street. Most of them call it rebellion, but some also find it to be a form of self-therapy. Either way, it's rather impressive that Tunick has the confidence to approach people in the middle of the street. One sequence has Tunick trying to capture 1,000 nude folks at a Phish concert. Tunick's lawyer makes an interesting point, too - not once has he been arrested because of a civilian complaint - all of his arrests have been because police have stumbled onto one of his photo shoots.
The documentary also adds another element in showing the relationship between Tunick and his bright, supportive girlfriend; it's interesting to see how she relates to him and understands his art. Overall, I thought this was a strong documentary that brings up a lot of debate and questions about society, art, how we view ourselves and more.
VIDEO: "Naked States" is presented in 1.33:1 full-fraame. It appears to be shot with a high-grade video camera and has been transfered well to DVD. The picture appears consistently sharp and well-defined, with no instances of noticable softness. A little bit of shimmer was noticed during a few moments, but otherwise, I didn't see any major flaws. As with the other Docurama titles that I've reviewed, I'm pleased with the image quality - the company seems to do the best they can with the material.
SOUND: "Naked States" is offered in Dolby 2.0. The film's sound is simply "documentary-style" and clearly captures the dialogue.
MENUS: As per usual, Docurama offers menus that aren't animated, but still stylish and very easily navigated.
EXTRAS: Tunick photo gallery & bio, director bio, a short film covering an additional Tunick photo shoot in New York where the photographer has to direct a giant group of naked people through the park and into the street, and trailers for other Docurama titles.
Final Thoughts: "Naked States" isn't going to be for everybody, but it's a thought-provoking and well-crafted documentary that raises debate on a number of issues. Docurama offers a DVD with solid image/audio quality and a few supplements.