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Partridge, S. (2009). Chosen. Att: New Dir. in Psychother. Relat. Psychoanal., 3(1):114-116.

(2009). Attachment: New Directions in Psychotherapy and Relational Psychoanalysis, 3(1):114-116

Film Review


Review by:
Simon Partridge

Boarding school survivor Simon Partridge reviews Chosen, Brian Wood's TV documentary broadcast on More4 on 30 September 2008, which details the systematic sexual abuse, and consequences, suffered by three pupils at a private boarding school in the 1960s and 1970s.

The film started slowly for me and it took me a little while to get used to the minimalist camera work - occasionally a profile, mostly a side-lit face filling the frame against a dark backdrop, the interviewer invisible with only the very occasional question or prompt. This starkness made the facial expression of each man all the more telling, relieved only by well-chosen archive photos of the men as boys at the elite Caldicott school, and the masters who abused them.1 I was soon drawn into an appalling story as the “camera” teased out the difficult and painful personal narratives - very like a good and attuned psychotherapist - and the two hours sped by. Indeed, it was clear that the process of articulation took the participants at times to emotional horrors they had never been to before - the unconscious or semi-conscious revealed before our eyes.

For some thirty years Tom Perry, Mark Payge, and Alastair Rolfe had remained silent. One of the reasons had been a wish not to upset their parents. As the brief biographies revealed, all had suffered from cold and distant parenting and the scope for any intimate communication was minimal. In one case, the parental home had only been 2 ½ miles from the school! In every case there was a palpable sense of abandonment and bewilderment, familiar to any boarding school survivor who has become aware of the consequences of being sent off to board at the age of seven or eight.

The film had its genesis five years ago in Tom's approach to film-maker Brian Woods the morning after his documentary film Dying for Drugs was broadcast on Channel 4, saying ‘We'd like you to tell our story.’

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