Kinsey (2004) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • A look at the life of Alfred Kinsey, a pioneer in the area of human sexuality research, whose 1948 publication "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male" was one of the first recorded works that saw science address sexual behavior.

  • Called Prok as an adult (short for Professor Kinsey), Alfred Kinsey has been interested in biology since he was a child growing up in the early twentieth century, despite the criticisms of such being evil nonsense from his overbearing and devoutly Christian father, professor Alfred Seguine Kinsey. Prok goes on to become a biology professor at Indiana University, initially focusing on the study of gall wasps. But those studies in combination with questions from his students, coming to terms with the needs of sex with his own wife, a former student of his named Clara McMillen (who he calls Mac), and what he sees as the gross misinformation on the subject currently within popular belief makes him change his focus to human sexuality. Many of those gross untruths - as he sees them - are that oral sex and masturbation cause a slew of maladies, which are perpetuated by what is presented in the university's hygiene class taught by Professor Thurman Rice. With the approval of faculty head Herman Wells, Prok starts teaching his own wildly popular marriage course, talking about sex in a straightforwardly academic fashion. When he sees that morals don't necessarily mirror sexual behavior, he decides to conduct a massive sex survey with the assistance of students Wardell Pomeroy, Clyde Martin and Paul Gebhard. He faces the issue of the funding required for the survey and public and political response to this controversial and oft seen as taboo subject. But in conducting the survey, he and Mac also face the issue of their own sexuality in relationship to their marriage and the emotional and cultural aspects behind it, such as the notion of love.

  • Life story of Alfred Kinsey, a man driven to uncover the most private secrets of the nation, and a journey into the mystery of human behavior. In 1948 Kinsey irrevocably changed American culture and created a media sensation with his book "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male". Using the technique of his own famous sex interviews, story recounts the scientist's extraordinary journey from obscurity to global fame. Rebelling against the rigid piety of his home life, and drawn to the world of the senses, Kinsey becomes a Harvard-educated zoologist specializing in the study of gall wasps. After being hired to teach biology at Indiana University, Kinsey meets and marries a witty, freethinking female student, Clara McMillen. In the course of his teaching he discovers an astonishing dearth of scientific data on sexual behavior. When students seek him out for advice about sexual concerns and problems, he realizes that no one has done the clinical research that would yield reliable answers to their questions. Inspired to explore the emotionally charged subject of sex from a strictly scientific point of view, Kinsey recruits a team of researchers, including Clyde Martin, Wardell Pomeroy and Paul Gebhard. Over time they refine an interviewing technique, which helps people to break through shame, fear, and guilt and speak freely about their sexual histories. When Kinsey publishes his Male study in 1948, the press compares the impact to that of the atom bomb. But as the country enters the more paranoid Cold War era of the 1950s, Kinsey's follow-up study on women is seen as an attack on basic American values. The ensuing outrage and scorn causes Kinsey's benefactors to abandon him, just as his health begins to deteriorate. At the same time, the jealousies and acrimony caused by Kinsey's attempt to create a private sexual utopia threaten to tear apart the research team and expose them to unwelcome scrutiny.

  • Kinsey is a biologist and a sex researcher. He releases reports about sexual behavior of American people in 1948 and 1953. He interviews 18,000 people to take sex histories. It is sensational and controversial because it is taboo to talk about sex. And people have little knowledge of it. No knowledge makes them worry and feel guilty. Actually, he and his wife lose their virginity after their marriage, but it is unsuccessful. From the bad experience, and as he consults with his students to give them advice about sexual problems, he gets interested in revealing people's sexual behavior. He devotes his life to sex research. His academic curiosity is amazing. He supports "diversity" and "individualism". He claims there are common and rare sexual behaviors, but we shouldn't categorize it into the two groups, normal and abnormal. He influences a lot of people. Especially, he encourages and saves homosexual people. In short, Kinsey is an influential figure who is fascinated with sex research and contributes to the society.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • A professor of zoology (insect biology), Alfred Kinsey (Liam Neeson), understands bugs but not himself. Finally marrying, he and his wife Clara McMillen (Laura Linney) discover that sexuality is more than watching bugs "do it".

    He find himself stumped when asked by newly-wed students about an aspect of human sexual behavior. His scientific credibility is then brought to the study of sexuality, initially by analyzing a questionnaire given to his students. His wife suggests that the students might lie on a questionnaire, but be truthful if interviewed in person. Kinsey sets out to interview his students then later many thousands of people across America using a team of researchers from Indiana University, under a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation.

    The 1940/50s McCarthyism creates fear, uncertainty and doubt in many regarding the study, including the Foundation and the University. Nevertheless, the resulting books on male sexuality (1948) and later female sexuality (1953), revolutionize how sex is perceived; and, the work laid the ground for the "sexual revolution" of the 1960s. During this, Kinsey and his team discover the wide range of 'acceptable' sexual behavior, and their own sexual freedom - sometimes to their dismay.

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