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An unfettered study of the penis's place in history, art, religion, and contemporary life.

A printer-friendly version of this page 45 minutes
Closed Captioned

Directed by Vishnu Mathur
Produced by Vishnu Mathur for CBC's "The Nature of Things"
Hosted by David Suzuki

The penis. Does size really matter? Is the male organ simply a tool for sex, or is it a phallic symbol worthy of deification? To what extent is men's preoccupation with their penises responsible for the aggressive, militaristic, and violent nature of our society? These are some of the questions that this ground-breaking, but non-titillating, film covers.

Anthropologists and historians find the phallus at the center of many ancient traditions and cultures. Greeks and Romans once adorned their pottery and other household items with images of the penis, regarding it as a potent symbol of fertility and longevity. In India today, we visit an old Hindu temple whose walls are sculpted in explicit scenes of erotic arts, with the penis prevalent. Pulling back we see that the entire temple is composed of upward thrusting phalluses in a glorified expression of sexuality through art and architecture.

In most eastern cultures the penis retains its symbolic representation of love and procreation, while in the west the organ has attained a very different status. Through interviews with experts and movie excerpts we see how machismo and the penis are intimately connected in our culture. Men's new body awareness has given the hidden appendage an awkward responsibility. We have come to gauge masculinity by the inch, and some will go to unusual lengths to insure they measure up.

Frank discussions with a number of men, and their mates, about sexual performance are presented. We meet Ian and Joan, seniors, who openly demonstrate how a garage mechanic's vacuum-pumped invention has brought the magic back into their bedroom. We hear Allard and Joyce describe their willing participation in the early clinical trial of a resurrected heart drug which found new purpose in correcting erectile dysfunction. Viagra went on to become the fastest, most successful selling drug ever created.

Also covered is a surgical procedure for a man who thought his penis was too small. Even though the follow-up therapy required the use of an 8-lb weight, he claims his happiness has been increased immeasurably.

Myths and misconceptions are often born from the concealment of facts. This program brings the penis front and center for an unfettered study of the male organ's place in history, art, religion, and contemporary life.

Note: Not surprisingly, full frontal male nudity is shown in this program. Repeat: This film is not in any way titillating...though it's often amusing!

Grade Level: College, Adult
US Release Date: 2000     Copyright Date: 1999
DVD ISBN: 1-59458-388-9     VHS ISBN: 1-56029-816-2

"Beautifully shot and edited, the film seamlessly weaves a connection between the cultural, medical, social, and personal aspects of the phallus...With its even-handed approach, the commentaries by experts and laypeople alike, and the scholarliness of the film, Phallacies is ideal for classroom room and discussion group use."
Karen Rhines, Dept. of Psychiatry, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

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"This film offers something for anyone interested in the topic... Highly Recommended." Leslie Wolf, University at Buffalo Law Library, MC Journal

Awards and Festivals
Bronze Plaque, Columbus International Film & Video Festival
Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival

Conflict Resolution
Gender Issues
Gender Studies
Human Sexuality
Mental Health
Social Psychology
Women's Studies

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... more Reviews

"An interesting historical and contemporary look into the male penis...This film offers something for anyone interested in the topic. It would serve any college library collection well, but more specifically, a health sciences collection. Highly Recommended."
Leslie Wolf, University at Buffalo Law Library, MC Journal

"A sassy, cutting exploration of our too common fallacies about masculinity and maleness. And the sextremities some men will go to in coping with their 'too small size' and flagging potency."
Robert T. Francoeur, The Position

"An engaging and provocative documentary."
Michael Wiederman, Review Editor, Journal of Sex Research

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