- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24
- Audio Codec: English LPCM 2.0 Mono (48kHz/24-bit)
- Region: ABC (Region-Free)
- Classification: 18
- Discs: 1
- Studio: BFI Video
- Release Date: January 25, 2010
- List Price: £23.99[amazon-product align=”right” region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B002XOL65E[/amazon-product]
Shop with us for More Blu-ray Releases at Amazon.co.uk Overall [Rating:3.5/5] The Film [Rating:3.5/5] Video Quality [Rating:4/5] Audio Quality [Rating:3/5] Supplemental Materials [Rating:3/5]
Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures
(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
Director Lindsay Shonteff’s 1970 film Permissive is a rather unique take on the era’s crop of British exploitation or “permissive” films. Marketed as soft porn and squarely intended to take advantage of the public’s curiosity with the world of rock and roll groupies, Permissive eschewed the usual modus operandi for these sorts of dramas. Nowhere to be found were the glamour girls, mods, double-decker busses of high fashion London or what one might expect the rock world of a supergroup might be like. Instead, Permissive, with its reported £20,000 budget showed a gritty, melancholy world filled with malaise and emotional detachment.
There is no linear story in Permissive to speak of, but the story revolves around a provincial girl named Suzy (Maggie Stride) who goes to London to visit her old school friend Fiona (Gay Singleton) and gets drawn into Fiona’s world of groupies, following around the acid rock band Forever More. In the backstabbing world of the groupies, it’s every girl for herself, as each tries to climb her way to the top, or, more precisely, sleep her way through the band. Suzy’s own character changes and she herself develops a growing level of coldness and detachment.
The nearest thing Permissive comes to real emotional drama, is the character Pogo (Robert Daubigny), a busker whom Suzy shares a night of vagabonding with. The night turns strange when Pogo enters a church and begins preaching brimstone and fire from the pulpit, otherwise, Permissive remains coolly distant and cruddy; a cautionary series of vignettes about life on the road with drugs and sex. Even the eroticism is tame — mere flashes of bodies going about their business, often intercut with flash-forwards of more forebodingly violent imagery as if to undermine the intimacy of the entire process and say, “yes, sex is violent.”
Acid rock from underground acts Forever More, Titus Groan, and most prominently, Comus, underscores the uneasy atmosphere and rising sense of disillusionment that permeates the entire film. It’s the generation of love with all of the love lost. All that’s left behind is the cynicism and a need to escape with sex and drugs. In many ways, Permissive may have been the perfect rock and roll film to open the 1970s with.
Permissive was transferred to high definition from the original 35mm negative. The picture was restored using HD-DVNR and MTI restoration systems, removing dirt, scratches warps and tears or replacing torn or missing frames and improving stability issues.
The film appears on this Blu-ray release from the BFI in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio and an AVC/MPEG-4 1080p/24 transfer. Film grain is nicely preserved; source damage is limited, though there are still some occasional scratches and specs that can be seen. Flesh tones are accurate and black levels are deep, but they suffer from crush in a lot of areas. Overall, however, this is another solid effort from the BFI and Permissive has been restored to a rather film-like looking presentation that belies its age and occasionally looks very sharply detailed and pristine.
The audio for Permissive was taken from a 35mm print and it is definitely the week point in the presentation. There is a lot of crackle and sibilant distortion to be heard in dialogue, but what really mars the English LPCM 2.0 Mono (48kHz/24-bit) soundtrack is the dialogue constantly being lost in the mix below the swirl of music and other special effects.
- Trailer (1.33:1; 1080p/24)
- Bread (1.33:1; 1080p/24; 1:08.24) — Stanley Long’s 1971 film tackles some of the same territory as Permissive in a more comedic way. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll are once again on the agenda as a group of friends decide to stage their own rock show hitchhiking on the way back from a rock festival.
- Bread Mute Outtakes (1.33:1; 1080p/24)
- ‘Ave You Got a Male Assistant Please Miss? (1.33:1; 1080p/24; 0:04.27) — A early public service announcement for safe sex.
- 36-page illustrated booklet with essays by I Q Hunter, rock singer Lee Dorian, and members of the band Comus plus detailed cast, crew, and technical information on the Blu-ray transfer of Permissive and Bread.
The Definitive Word
Permissive certainly won’t be for everyone and may take a few viewings to understand it, but it shouldn’t be approached as an average sexploitation film. Permissive should be viewed as a realistic and gritty time capsule of an era that we tend to idealize.