Friday, April 28, 2017
Directed By: Peter Watkins
Written By: Norman Bogner
Story By: Johnny Speight
Cinematography By: Peter Suschitzsky
Editor: John Trumper
Cast: Paul Jones, Jean Shrimpton, Mark London, William Job, Max Bacon, Jeremy Child, James Cossins
Steven Shorter is the ultimate British music star. His music is listened to by everyone from pre-teens to grandparents. He has no trace of public bad habits or drug involvement. Everyone in Britain loves him. His handlers begin to use his popularity for projects like increasing the consumption of apples after a bumper crop as an aid to farmers. The handlers decide that Steven should support God and Country next. This leads to, among other things, a rock version of "Onward Christian Soldiers," and the inclusion of a Nazi salute to make it clear (to the viewer) how far the British population will be taken for love of God and Country under Steven's guidance. Steven is very plastic in his direction, shifting as his handlers point him toward new projects until he meets Vanessa Ritchie, an artist who makes him look at what's happening.
One of the strongest directed films I have barely heard of before.
The film is more meant to resemble a docudrama with concert musical sequences.
This film truly came out of nowhere for me. Though I am glad it is getting a resurgence lately as one of the British new wave films.
The camera keeps Roaming amongst the crowd in scenes. So that it almost feels like a documentary. Usually with someone or something obscuring the view. In fact in one scene the camera goes past extras in the scene looking right into the camera acknowledging it and making us in the audience aware of it's presence. So that it is almost a character in itself and seeking to make the audience feel like they are part of the action.
When characters are speaking. It is rarely in close up except maybe in a reaction shot where the camera slowly zooms on their reactions. He close-up's are more done when another character is talking to another character.
Also some characters are interviewed or more introduced though never really presented in their natural habitat.
Many scenes here are obviously produced but meant to showcase the characters more in their day to day actions and explanations.
The framing of the camera usually makes the characters seem alone while surrounded or busy as the camera is always either moving or full with people and backgrounds full of action always leaving you with something or someone to watch.
The film showcases the pressure and problems of fame. Keeping it especially when pushed by all of those you employ. Who can you go to for an honest reaction and conversation?
Though more from a lovely young Female artist hired to do his portrait. Who keeps asking questions and or trying to explain. He wakes up his consciousness to his existence.
We also see how she thinks different. It gets caught up in his fame and how his masters/handlers/owners keep control
As we watch him learn the power of his influence. He knows how he effects people and uses it to take Power back from his handlers Over his career and life.
The film is prophetic almost in the power of celebrity in this case a pop star. Not only showing the influence he has over his fans and products but also politics. Which is documented in The audiences emotional almost religious reactions to his music.
The film is a unique viewing experience and very experimental. It's a film that I believe will be best enjoyed admiring the filmmaking and the ideas rather than the overall experience or film. It seems a bit ahead of it's time or something that is foretelling.