Stop Making Sense (1984) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • David Byrne walks onto the stage and does a solo "Psycho Killer." Jerry Harrison, Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz join him for two more songs. The crew is busy, still setting up. Then, three more musicians and two back-up singers join the band. Everybody sings, plays, harmonizes, dances, and runs. They change instruments and clothes. Bryne appears in the Big Suit. The backdrop is often black, but sometimes it displays words, images, or children's drawings. The band cooks for 18 songs, the lyrics are clear, the house rocks. In this concert film, the Talking Heads hardly talk, don't stop, and always make sense.

  • An innovative concert movie for the rock group The Talking Heads.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Stop Making Sense opens as lead singer David Byrne walks out onto an empty stage holding only an acoustic guitar and a portable cassette tape player. He introduces the first song, "Psyco Killer" by saying "I want to play a tape." As the show progresses, Byrne is accompanied by the rest of the members of the band as well as some guest performers. Tina Weymouth is the first to appear for the song Heaven. Then Chris Frantz appears for Thank You for Sending Me an Angel and Jerry Harrison for Found a Job. Instruments and equipment are gradually brought out onto the bare stage during the first few songs and the entire group is brought together for the band's big hit, "Burnin Down the House." The film offers us a glimpse inside the mind of lead singer David Byrne through the progression of the songs and stage effects. In a self-interview included in the film, Byrne talks about the physicality of music and that it doesn't have to make sense to the mind if it makes sense to your body. Director Jon Demme's use of wide angle shots to give the viewer a sense of being in the crowd as they are able to view the whole stage and all of the performers at once. Unlike many concert films and videos, which use more quick-cut editing techniques in an MTV-like fashion, much of Stop Making Sense uses lengthy camera shots to allow the viewer to examine the performances and onstage interaction and the limited amount of crowd shots, which only appear at the end of the film, allow the viewer to make their own judgments about the film. The film is a great look at one of the leading bands in the New Wave movement of the late 70s and 80s and is a must see for any fan of Talking Heads.

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