A gender-queer punk-rock singer from East Berlin tours the U.S. with her band as she tells her life story and follows the former lover/band-mate who stole her songs.A gender-queer punk-rock singer from East Berlin tours the U.S. with her band as she tells her life story and follows the former lover/band-mate who stole her songs.A gender-queer punk-rock singer from East Berlin tours the U.S. with her band as she tells her life story and follows the former lover/band-mate who stole her songs.
I also have another heap of praise that I have to go through before I am done. I've always thought that movie musicals adapted from stage plays were the death of the genre. Only a few exceptions ever seemed more than unimaginative, slavish films that worked only to bring Broadway to an audience who could or would never visit NYC. Cabaret was the one big exception that I had seen previously, but you also hear West Side Story mentioned as being a great film. But, in adapting a stage play for the screen, I always expect the film to seem stranded on stage. To boot, Hedwig had another mark against it: the director, Mitchell again, had never directed a film before. Well, I really don't know what training he had in the art, but it must have been enough. The cinematic art, at least the visual aspect of it, has nearly been forgotten in the 1990s and 2000s, but John Cameron Mitchell creates a visual tour de force as much as he does one of writing and acting. I love the scene where Hedwig the adult reminisces about how his mother forced him to put his head in the oven if he wanted to sing when he was a child. And Hedwig and the Angry Inch's (that's the band's name as well as the film's) appearance outside the Menses Festival next to the port-o-potties. A goth chick, who presumably didn't have tickets for the actual Menses Festival, watches the band in deep curiosity and confusion; Hedwig invites the girl to sit up on stage with her while she relates her past. I also love the sequence where the American G.I. discovers him laying naked in rubble. Hedwig's original name was Hansel, which leads to one of the funniest jokes I can ever recall seeing. Or how about the scene where Hedwig, when babysitting, discovers Tommy, the future rock star who steals all her songs, masturbating in the bath tub? That scene is handled so well that I almost died laughing. To tell you the truth, I don't think there is anything ostensibly wrong with the film, period. I just wanted to talk about the amazing direction because the one review of it I have on hand says "the direction can't help from being flat." FLAT? How can you say that it is flat? PS: The animated number and the song that goes along with it is adapted from Aristophanes' speech in Plato's Symposium, about which I wrote my senior thesis in college. The rock star's stage name, Gnosis, is Ancient Greek for "knowledge," which Hedwig actually says in the film. One of the filmmakers must have learned Ancient Greek at some point in his life. Bravo, good sirs.
- Nov 5, 2001