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Decades before the Weinstein scandal and the resulting #MeToo movement, multi award-winning director Tony Palmer exposed the dark underbelly of the 1974 Miss World contest, a pageant billed as showcasing the very best of womanhood, only to uncover a seething hotbed of bullying, chauvinism and sexist rants."
Although shown to critics when the film was first made in 1974, by the time it was broadcast on ITV it had been hacked to pieces, and less than half the original film appeared on the screen, partly as a result of furious objections - and even the threat of legal action - from the organisers of ‘Miss World’.
Now it has been restored to its original version and re-mastered on DVD (ntsc, region 0).
Critics at the time noted that it was the very first fly-on-the-wall arts documentary, experimental in every way. And given that it was filmed backstage while the actual ceremony was being broadcast live by the BBC, all the more remarkable.
The Financial Times: “Frequently derided by the feminist brigade, the annual Miss World contest would have been an easy subject to mock, especially in the hands of a brilliant editor like Palmer. But somehow he manages to make the story funny, pathetic, tragic and often deeply moving, all at the same time. And, as always with Palmer, the experimental use of sound and music - from Britten to Prokofiev, via Leonard Cohen and Mike Oldfield - as an essential part of the narrative drive of the film which itself has no narration, is breathtaking.”