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Kinsey is all about the man who changed the way we think about sex, telling the story of Alfred Kinsey who shocked late 1940's America when he revealed that most men had a least one homosexual experience in their lives. OutUK correspondent Ron Dicker has been talking to the film's gay writer-director Bill Condon about this acclaimed movie.
Condon, emits the enthusiasm of a man who found success late. Brilliance does not always get recognized, Condon has observed of his friends, so he was extra grateful for the attention after his Oscar victory.

"That was a radical shift in perception, comming off where my career had been," he says.

Chicago seemed like a fluke to Condon, a miraculous fusion of big studio muscle (Miramax) and indie creativity to fashion the biggest film musical in years.

Condon did not bother pitching Kinsey to studios. He got the financial backing in Europe despite fears that would-be benefactors there might be perplexed by America's puritanical view of sex, even back in the '40s. The film mixes dramatised interviews between Kinsey and his subjects with scenes depicting the growing tension in his research team. Kinsey apparently encouraged casual sex to reinforce his notion that sex was merely an animal instinct, but the results were hopelessly human: fist fights and tears.

"This idea that just because you're studying sex and removing everything having to do with morality, culture and religion from it and act that out and create a sexual world where people are not having emotional attachments, that proved to be misguided," Condon says.

Laura Linney plays Kinsey's wife.
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While Kinsey's attraction to men (he has a tryst with his male assistant) served as relevant background, Condon concludes that it did not drive Kinsey into the bedrooms of America to validate his feelings.

"I think that idea gets distorted into a charge that he was compromised as a scientist," Condon says. "The instinct was purely scientific."

Neeson, a towering Irishman, strikes the perfect blend of nerdy yet determined in his portrayal of Kinsey, whose 1948 book Sexual Behavior in the Human Male became a massive bestseller. When Neeson's name came up for the part, Condon says, "The only hesitation I had was my own lack of imagination because I'd never seen him be a quintessential American before."

Meeting the actor, however, convinced him otherwise. "All those qualities you're hoping for, piercing intelligence and sensitivity, was right there across the dinner table," he says.

Condon was not an obvious candidate to make it in show business. After he graduated from Columbia University in New York City, he worked as a film journalist. A think piece he wrote about the summer movies of 1978 caught the eye of Michael Laughlin, a producer. The two collaborated on two horror movies, "Strange Behavior" (1981) and "Strange Invaders" (1983).

More than a decade later, Condon nearly met his Waterloo when his sequel to Clive Barker's "Candyman," "Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh" (1995), was ravaged by critics and ignored by audiences. "Your phone goes pretty silent," he says. "Clive was there with an awful lot of encouragement."

Condon survived. He is even thinking of returning to the horror genre someday. But for now he is happy to be thriving in a renaissance period for gay filmmakers.

"It's leaps and bounds every several years," he says. "It's sort of not an issue."

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   Ian McKellen stars in Gods & Monsters which is available on DVD from Amazon as is a new paperback about Kinsey which features the full shooting script of the film and background on Alfred Kinsey.

 

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