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Running in from seemingly nowhere, Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith & Peter Tork - better known collectively as The Monkees - disrupt a bridge opening ceremony. From where and why did they come to disrupt the proceedings? They were filming a series of vignettes in several different genres, including a wild west sequence, a desert war sequence, a Confederate war sequence, and a science fiction sequence. They disagree with much of what is happening around them, and try to figure out how to escape the oppression they feel - symbolized by a big black box in which they are seemingly imprisoned - by the forces around. That oppression is often shown in the form of "The Big Victor Mature". Written by
You would really need to remember the Monkees and have a clear understanding as to where and how they fitted into the second half of the 1960s in order to fully appreciate this movie.
There is no plot as such. Basically, it's a crazy, mixed up pastiche of various, unrelated sequences. But, it IS interesting AND entertaining in its own peculiar way once you get onto its wavelength. In short, it was a classic, cleverly conceived and well crafted example of late '60s experimental cinema. It contains some good songs, some ultra-groovy cinematography and plenty of other worthwhile ideas in terms of film technique.
I give it 7 out of 10 for several reasons. First, it took a lot of courage to make such an unorthodox movie in the commercial mainstream where both its stars and its producers were firmly ensconced at the time (whether they liked it or not). It seems that almost everyone who was associated with the project (with the exception of Columbia who paid for it) knew that it was probably not going to be a big money maker. Their reasons for wanting to do it were as unorthodox as the film itself. Secondly, it was, for the most part, a creative success. And, finally, as already mentioned, it is, unquestionably, a classic of the genre and, as such, it is now historically important.
Unfortunately, "Head" came too late in the Monkees career. But, there again, they wouldn't have been allowed to make it earlier on because it was essentially a very pointed and cynical satire of their own image.
Clearly, the members of the group knew, only too well, that the whole Monkeemania thing had pretty well run its course when they started work on this movie. In a way, it was to be their swan song and they were determined to let it all hang out. They were tired of being treated like mere pawns in the high powered corporate game in which they had been manipulated and exploited over the preceding few years. In short, they "wanted out" and they were going to say a few things before they left.
History, however, has vindicated the band. Let the critics be damned. The Monkees, left behind some of the best, most polished and successful pop records of the decade. Yes, they had plenty of help. But at the end of the day, THEY stood in front of the studio mikes, THEY fronted the movie and TV cameras and THEY did the concerts. They were fun and just a little bit crazy. But, unlike some of their contemporaries, they were never threatening. You could safely introduce a Monkey to your elderly aunt.
"Head" probably borrows a bit too heavily from the Beatles "Hard Day's Night" but it's still worth another look for those who were around at the time or for younger retrophiles who have the ability to appreciate its significance.
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