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New Order: Decades (2018)

Part concert, part documentary, this film follows a band that rarely looks backward, yet for this project, they had to reflect on - and deconstruct - the band's history, in order to create something very new.


Mike Christie


Mike Christie


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Credited cast:
Bernard Sumner ... Self
Stephen Morris Stephen Morris ... Self
Gillian Gilbert Gillian Gilbert ... Self
Phil Cunningham Phil Cunningham
Tom Champman Tom Champman
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Jon Savage Jon Savage ... Self
Peter Saville Peter Saville ... Self


Part concert, part documentary, this film follows the band's preparations in the re-staging of their acclaimed collaboration, So It Goes, with the artist Liam Gillick and the 12-piece synthesizer orchestra that spectacularly captured the headlines during Manchester International Festival 2017. The complexities extend beyond the technical and logistical: this is a band that rarely looks backward, yet for this project, they had to reflect on - and deconstruct - the band's history, in order to create something very new. Written by SHOWTIME

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Documentary | Music


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Official Sites:

Official Site | SHOWTIME





Release Date:

22 September 2018 (UK) See more »

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Caravan Media See more »
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User Reviews

New Order performs with "synthesizer orchestra" and Liam Gillick-designed visuals
23 March 2020 | by paul-allaerSee all my reviews

"New Order Decades" (2018 UK release; 2019 US release; 90 min.) is a documentary about New Order's collaborations with a "synthesizer orchestra" and Liam Gilick-designed visuals. As the movie opens, it is "Vienna, May 2018" as the band is getting ready to hit the stage. We then go to "six weeks earlier", where we watch the 12 musicians that make up the synthesizer orchestra in rehearsals for the upcoming shows. Along the way, New Order band members talk about their long history, going back to the days of Joy Division... At this point we are 10 min. into the documentary.

Couple of comments: this is the latest from veteran British documentarian Mike Christie. Here he brings a look at a now legendary band and their quest to remain relevant. The idea to come up with something new and unique arose from the Manchester International Festival's invitation for their 2017 fest. From there, the band came up with two things: (i) create a "synthesizer orchestra", with 12 original scores for the 12 musicians, and (ii) have Liam Gillick design a stage to enhance/emphasize the visual experience of it all. Much is made of the technical challenges to perform with the synthesizer orchestra, and I'm sure there were many, but in the end that matters little to the viewers (at least, it did for me), and instead we just want to enjoy the performances. Even though the words "deconstruct" and "reinvent" are used multiple times, in the end it all sounds quite familiar. Yes, the visuals are very noticeable (reminding me of certain Kraftwerk and Depeche Mode sets from the past). The band also discusses how they arrived at the set list, and why, for example, Blue Monday (by far their biggest hit ever) simply did not fit the bill and hence went unplayed, and why indeed two Joy Division songs (Disorder and the set-closing Decades) did made the cut. New Order's ringleader Bernard Sumner, a crisp 62 yr. young when this was filmed, seems very much in control throughout.

Bottom line: this is a pleasant documentary with a visually striking live performance. The "synthesizer orchestra" never really steps forward all that much, and the songs sound to me pretty much like they've always sounded. If you are a New Order fan, I'd readily suggest you check this out and draw your own conclusion. For completeness' sake, here the set list: New Order, Vienna, Austria, May 13, 2018: 1.Elegia (performed by the synthesizer orchestra only) 2.Who's Joe? 3.Dream Attack 4.Disorder 5.Ultraviolence 6.In a Lonely Place 7.All Day Long 8.Shellshock 9.Guilt Is a Useless Emotion 10.Subculture 11.Bizarre Love Triangle 12.Vanishing Point 13.Plastic Encore: 14.Times Change (performed by the synthesizer orchestra only) 15.Your Silent Face 16.Decades

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