Color - 111mn - Original version with French subtitles
8 September 2020 17:45
Screening presented by Marjane Satrapi
Produced by: Ken Russell, Robert Stigwood.
Screenplay by: Ken Russell, Pete Townshend.
Editing: Stuart Baird.
Photography: Dick Bush, Robin Lehman, Ronnie Taylor.
Music by: The Who.
With: Roger Daltrey, Robert Powell, Ann-Margret, Oliver Reed.
Having witnessed his father's murder by his stepfather and mother, Tommy is persuaded he has seen, heard and must tell nothing, but the psychological shock he's suffered makes him deaf, dumb and blind. Despite this major trauma, Tommy develops a passion for pinball machines and becomes a champion at the game. After breaking through a mirror he recovers his senses to become a new messiah...
Is it necessary to present this cult film among cult films, adapted from The Who's LP six years after its release, and qualified by the music press as the first rock opera ?
British hellion Ken Russell lets loose in this highly psychedelic fantasy, playing around with a plethora of rock star guests (Tina Turner, Elton John, Eric Clapton), his pet actor Oliver Reed and a few other accomplices (Jack Nicholson, Ann-Margret...). The Who's Roger Daltrey plays the lead role, and Russell will cast him again for his delirious fake biopic "Lisztomania" this time supported by a score from another brilliant visionaire : Rick Wakeman. Don't be fooled, this farcical trip's outrageousness in no way diminishes the film's somber message: an indictment of a suffocating consumerist society, with its false gods and the excesses of collective idolatry, where every messiah becomes a target for martyrdom. Watching Tommy again is a bit like feeling the effects of drugs without taking any. Subversive, blasphemous, totally exuberant, you can't turn down another Tommy puff!
A must see for all Who fans ! When I was preparing my film The Voices, doing some research on choreographies in movies, I discovered this film. I thought I knew Ken Russell's work pretty well, but i had missed this one, although as the director himself says, it was his biggest commercial success.
It isn't a film to see but a life experience, an acid trip. It's rejoicing and unsettling, but most of all it takes cinema experimentation to an all time high.