Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist


Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist (1997)


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Movie Info

This documentary profiles poet/performance artist Bob Flanagan, who was born with cystic fibrosis. Flanagan explains, with engaging humor, how his obsession with controlled, self-inflicted pain has helped him to deal with his uncontrollable suffering. His philosophy forces one to look at sado-masochism with fresh eyes. The film includes explicit scenes of genital self-mutilation.

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Kirby Dick
as interviewer
Sheree Rose
as Herself
Rita Valencia
as interviewer
Bob Flanagan
as Himself
Kathe Burkhart
as interviewer

Critic Reviews for Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist

All Critics (23) | Top Critics (6)

This bold, intense, and uncompromising expose of S&M takes audiences to places thay have not been before; in moments, it's tough to watch but quite rewarding at the end.

Feb 7, 2007 | Rating: A-
Top Critic

Flanagan and Rose prove to be an exceptionally creative and intelligent couple who were able to turn their obsessions into art, albeit of a highly specialized kind and involving at times an overwhelmingly brutal exhibitionism.

Feb 14, 2001 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Does a remarkable thing in presenting extreme, sometimes revolting material and simultaneously making us like and admire Flanagan.

Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

One of the most agonizing films I have ever seen.

Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

One of the most unlikely inspirational films ever made.

May 27, 2006 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

The film is sad and funny and flat-out fascinating.

Jan 5, 2004 | Rating: A

Audience Reviews for Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist

An extremely interesting artist who provides a deep glimpse into the nature of pain. He demonstrates, mostly with his body, the clear, yet often confounding, large gap between unwanted pain and consensual pain. If you've ever been intrigued, excited, or outright confused by masochism, let Bob give you a colorful education on the matter. Also worth noting is how impeccable director Kirby Dick is when it comes to picking subjects for his documentaries. This was his first international hit, and it is quite clear why it was so hailed, especially in the era before the internet where self-documented extreme masochistic acts were not a google search away or conveniently categorized on BMEzine..

_kelly .King
_kelly .King

Super Reviewer

Supermasochist is right. Hard to watch, but worth the ride. You will most definitely squirm in your seat and cover your eyes saying 'Oh, my god'.

Wu Chouin
Wu Chouin

Super Reviewer

Insightful documentary on Bob Flanagan who fought cystic fribrosis by becoming a masochist. Not just any old masochist. No, he became a super masochist; doing to his body what few others had the desire to do, let alone the nerve. Introduced to most from NIN's "Happiness In Slavery" video, he's not just a pervert or a weirdo, but a person who has spent everyday facing his mortality and found a way to survive and to outlast an illness that should have killed him in his childhood.

El Hombre Invisible
El Hombre Invisible

Super Reviewer


[font=Century Gothic]"Sick" is a documentary that starts out with Bob Flanagan, performance artist, reading his own obituary. Flanagan suffered from cystic fibrosis since he was a child and was not given long to live. But he beat the odds, by using masochism as a coping mechanism(coupled with a healthy sense of humor) and eventually became involved in a submissive, loving, and long-term relationship with his partner, Sheree Rose.(As a 17 year-old cystic fibrosis survivor, Sara, who gets to meet Flanagan through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, puts it, masochism is being able to have some control over your body.) [/font] [font=Century Gothic]This is not an easy movie to watch, however, as it is extremely graphic in its depictions of Flanagan's illness and sexuality. At the same time, the documentary uses these images to attack taboos concerning sickness, sadomasochism and death. [/font]

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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