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Joy Division (2007)

 -  Documentary | Music  -  2 May 2008 (UK)
7.8
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A chronological account of the influential late 1970s English rock band.

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Title: Joy Division (2007)

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Cast

Credited cast:
Richard Boon ...
Himself
...
Himself
Kevin Cummins ...
Himself
Ian Curtis ...
Himself (archive footage)
Bob Dickinson ...
Himself
Lesley Gilbert ...
Herself
Iain Gray ...
Himself
Rob Gretton ...
Himself (archive footage)
Martin Hannett ...
Himself (archive footage)
Alan Hempsall ...
Himself - Crispy Ambulance Singer
Annik Honoré ...
Herself
Peter Hook ...
Himself
Joy Division ...
Themselves (archive footage)
Richard H. Kirk ...
Himself - Cabaret Voltaire
Terry Mason ...
Himself - Manager and Roadie
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A chronological account of the influential late 1970s English rock band.

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Genres:

Documentary | Music

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

2 May 2008 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Joy Division  »

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Did You Know?

Soundtracks

Autosuggestion
Performed by Joy Division
Licensed courtesy of London Records 90 Ltd
Written by Ian Curtis (as Curtis) / Peter Hook (as Hook) / Bernard Sumner (as Sumner) / Stephen Morris (as Morris)
Published by Universal Music Publishing Ltd
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User Reviews

 
Very good, but with the usual flaws
25 July 2009 | by (Brisbane, Australia) – See all my reviews

As a hardcore fan, I really enjoyed this Joy Division doco more than I expected. Given that they were a shortlived band from a provincial area, and had only achieved up-and-coming status at the time of their demise, any documentary maker must face the challenge of the severe lack of video footage of the band, and poor quality of what is available, further exacerbated by the death, and hence unavailability for interview, of some of the key players viz Curtis, Hannett & Gretton. What's more, their active years coincided with Manchester's large-scale redevelopment, hence their old haunts have long since been torn down and replaced. Offset against this is the newfound openness of the remaining players to giving honest and full answers in interviews. They had previously been very reticent, particularly about Curtis whom they professed to be sick of discussing as they tried to establish New Order independent of the Joy Division legacy.

Overall, Gee rises to the challenge brilliantly. Gee's solution was to use extensive interviews with remaining members, brief interviews of many of the bit players, and waffling from some intellectuals explaining the band as being products of their time and place. This is combined with general video footage of 1970's Manchester, snippets of the limited available TV & gig footage, arty stills of the band taken mainly by Anton Corbijn with discussion of the photos' backgrounds, stills showing external shots of the band's old haunts then and now (the "Places that are no longer there" series), and the odd audio recording (e.g. Ian's hypnosis tapes, John Peel getting the speed wrong playing "Atmosphere") with oscilloscope visuals. The briefness of the video snippets used and the snappy editing successfully prevents the viewer noticing the paucity of the source material. Though we are constantly made aware that we are discussing a time and place and singer that are long gone, it all seems appropriate given that their music was mainly about loss.

Highlights included seeing the decaying 1970's Manchester which so inspired and suited their music. It was great to see pictures of the venues I'd only read about, even if they were old stills. There were few truly new facts for the Joy Division anorak, but it did give a sense of time and place and mood to known facts, and put faces and personalities to names. It was fascinating to hear Bernard's detailed account of Ian's first seizure, and the band's reactions to hearing of Ian's suicide first-hand. They are typical northerner artists, in that their brilliant, highly emotional music is created by remarkably dour people, and their sense of humour is cringeworthy. Though the band find their own anecdotes hilarious, Gee edited most of them into an incomprehensible mish-mash to hide how dull and unfunny they were. Lindsay Reade and Lesley Gilbert are remarkably beautiful for fiftysomethings, while the young Annik Honoré is much less pretty than her hold on Ian would suggest. She is overly melodramatic in interviews. Genesis C_Ornflakes is an even bigger freak now than in his Gristle days, and his stories lack credibility.

On the negative side, the intellectuals and their thesis-pushing grated. Joy Division were neither commenting on nor a product of an intellectual notion of "modernity". They were a bunch of rather ordinary Mancunians dreaming of a more exciting life than their dead-end jobs, who happened to be musical geniuses and with a singer/lyricist obsessed by darkly melodramatic bands like the Velvet Underground and the Doors. Nor were they anti-Thatcherites with revolutionary sympathies as the intellectuals claim. The Thatcher government took power in May 1979, whereas punk and post-punk emerged under the previous Labour government. As his wife and bandmates revealed elsewhere, Curtis himself was an ardent Tory with robustly "traditional" views on women and immigrants, while Stephen Morris has said he didn't vote in the first election for which he was old enough through lack of interest.


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