Definitions

adjunct pro-fessor

Kinsey (film)

Kinsey is a 2004 biographical film written and directed by Bill Condon. It describes the life of Alfred Kinsey (played by Liam Neeson). As a pioneer in the area of sexologic research, his 1948 publication, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (the first of the Kinsey Reports) was one of the first recorded works that tried to scientifically address and investigate sexual behaviour and its consequences (and lack thereof) in humans. The movie also stars Laura Linney (in a performance nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress), Chris O'Donnell, Peter Sarsgaard, Timothy Hutton, John Lithgow, Tim Curry, Oliver Platt, Dylan Baker and William Sadler as Kenneth Braun.

Although the story takes place at Indiana University, most of the film's exterior scenes were filmed at Fordham University in The Bronx, whose campus also appears in several other films. Portions of this film were also shot at Columbia University. Kinsey was the first film permitted to show human genitalia uncensored in Japan, known for its strict censorship policies regarding genitalia.

Plot

Professor Alfred Kinsey, the protagonist, is being interviewed about his sex history. Through the interview, the salient points in Kinsey's life are revealed to the viewer in several flashbacks. There are two sequences: one depicting experiences as a boy scout and the other showing Kinsey's announcement to his disappointed father of his vocational intentions. The scene shifts to Kinsey teaching at Indiana University as a professor of biology lecturing on gall wasps, where the continuous story line starts. Kinsey falls in love with a student in his class (played by Laura Linney) and marries her. They have three children. Meanwhile, at the University, Professor Kinsey, who is affectionately called "Prok" (Pro-fessor K-insey) by his graduate students, meets with students afterhours to offer individual sexual advice. While how this practice started is left unclear, it seems the students coming to him do so based on word of mouth about the quality of his advice.

At a book party celebrating Kinsey's latest publication on gall wasps, Kinsey approaches the dean of students about an open-forum sex education course as opposed to the anti-sex propaganda taught in a general health class. Eventually, it is approved. Kinsey begins teaching the sex course to a packed auditorium, nevertheless this course is open only to teachers, graduate or senior students or married students. Kinsey continues to answer students' questions in personal meetings but finds his answers to be severely limited by the complete paucity of scientific data about human sexual intercourse. This leads Kinsey to pass out questionnaires in his sexual education class from which he learns of the enormous disparity between what society had assumed people do and what their actual practices are. After securing financial support from the Rockefeller Foundation, Kinsey and his team travel the country, interviewing subjects about their sexual histories.

As time progresses Dr. Kinsey begins realizing that sexuality within humans, including himself, is a lot more varied than was originally thought. The range of expression he creates later becomes known as the Kinsey scale, which ranks overall sexuality from straight to gay and lesbian and everything in-between.

The first sexological book Kinsey publishes, which is on the sexual habits of the male, is a large-scale success and a best seller. Kinsey's research turns to women, which is met with more controversy. With the release of the female volume, support for Kinsey declines. McCarthyist pressures lead the Rockefeller Foundation to withdraw its financial support, lest it be labeled "Communist" for backing the subversion of traditional American values. Kinsey feels that he has failed everyone who has ever been a victim of sexual ignorance. A customs office is tipped off to an importation of some of Kinsey's research material, which only exacerbates the financial situation of Kinsey's research organization. Alfred Kinsey himself suffers a heart attack, something foreshadowed in his mention of having a "weak heart" at the beginning of the movie and is found to have developed an addiction to barbiturates. Meeting with other philanthropists fails to garner the support needed. Still, Kinsey continues his taking of sex histories. He interviews an older woman, who tells Kinsey that his research has saved her life and made her happy again, by helping her come to terms with her own sexuality. She felt so much shame about her attraction to another woman that she became an alcoholic.

The story returns to the initial interview with Kinsey, and he is asked about love and if he will ever attempt to conduct research on it. His response is that love is impossible to measure and impossible to quantify (and without measuring, he reminds us, there can be no science), but that it is important. The final scene is of Kinsey and his wife, pulling over to the side of the road for a nature walk. She remarks about a tree that has been there for a thousand years. Kinsey replies that the tree seems to display a strong love in the way its roots grip the earth.

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