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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
The movie ends with a still shot of a stylized, apparently vintage Columbia Pictures logo. The "film" then: 1) skips a few frames, 2) gets tangled up in the projector mechanism, 3) catches fire and burns/melts, and 4) the film on which all of this has been filmed breaks as the soundtrack continues. As the music ends, the laugh of the woman kissing the Monkees in the first scene is heard again. See more »
Forget Easy Rider - Head is THE film about the 1960s.
Almost laugh: as the Monkees reduce their entire career to a one-minute TV commercial about dandruff! See: the 50 foot Victor Mature try to figure out what the heck he's doing in this film! Hear: Frank Zappa (with his pet cow on leash) tell Davey Jones "Your music is awfully white"! Experience: the Monkees' only live performance as a real rock band play the honest-to-gosh first-ever real punk-rock song (Circle Sky)! Listen: as Davey Jones sings a Harry Nielsen song about having a transsexual father! Be confused: be very confused, as confused as Terri Garr is when Mickey Dolenz makes sexual innuendos about her in her film debut! Witness: futile protests against the Vietnam War leap out of nowhere and just as quickly disappear! Watch: Mike Nesmith spit on Christmas while wearing a velvet Victorian smoking jacket in a cobwebbed Gothic horror-movie sound-stage! Let yourself drift: into the karmic bliss inspired by a comic-book version of Indian mysticism delivered by a hammy white character-actor in black-face, while Peter Tork pretends that he knows how to play a guitar! Discover: Academy Award winning director Bob Rafelson's first feature length film, as written by Academy Award winning actor Jack Nicholson! Pretend it's not happening: when the Monkees commit group suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge! Take drugs - take a lot of drugs: take as many drugs as the cast and crew evidently did while making this film!
With Head, the Monkees revealed themselves as the angriest, snottiest entertainers in Hollywood history, bar none. It is bewildering to discover that they blamed the failure of this film on bad promo. To be sure, the promotion was virtually non-existent; but did they not recognize how angry, how down-right depressing, how self-destructive this film actually is?! I mean, this film is a trip - on bad acid - to the suicide ward of a mental hospital. The only film I know to be this depressing is Terry Gilliam's Brazil; and like Brazil, this film reveals why life in the later 20th Century was almost unbearable - if you were lucky. It's not simply that Western culture was suffering from serious information-overload, but the information itself was just bad, bad, more bad, and dismal. In fact, it was the overload effect itself that kept people going, since this allowed people to keep distracting themselves with one crisis or another - if news from Vietnam became too much to bear, they could turn the channel and watch a documentary on the rising unemployment rate.
The "positive" response to the reality revealed in Head was Woodstock - three days of peace and love and nudity and mud and bugs and bad food and dirty drink and poop and pee and bad acid and Peter Townsend almost killing Abbie Hoffman. All taking place behind a steel fence, under the lovingly watchful eyes of a veritable army of NY State Troopers - meaning that the "freedom" of Woodstock Nation was as illusory as the song John Sebastion thought he was singing while so strung out he could barely speak. "500,000 assholes too stupid to come in out of the rain," was one critic's judgment on Woodstock (I think it was Andy Warhol).
The one good thing occurring there was Jimi Hendrix's Star Spangled Banner. Two years previously, the Jimi Hendrix Experience had gone on their first National tour of America, as the warm-up band opening for - the Monkees.
See, it's all connected somehow.
You owe it to yourself - nay, you owe it to your unborn children - to see the real 1960s, only to be found on film in this bizarre, miraculous, and utterly absurd tribute to one of the more interesting capitalist scams of the later 20th Century.
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