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Author Topic: Help me understand this film  (Read 783 times)

AlexF

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Help me understand this film
« on: 03 November, 2021, 09:48:55 AM »
Just finished watching Tommy, the rock opera by the Who (currently on Netflix). I could not make head nor tail of it. Literally, I don't understand the plot, the themes, what I'm supposed to make of it, anything? I feel it's a beloved UK cult classic and as such am curious to know - is this film actually any good? Is it well liked? Is it just the music (which is fine but not entirely my cup of tea). I generally love Ken Russell and this has enough of his manic energy that I won't say I was bored by the film, but I was totally bemused.

I was born in 1978 so maybe I'm just too young to tune into whatever frequency it operates on. But it was a big enough deal that I reocnigsed the reference in that one Heavy Metal Dredd story where a pinball playing deaf/dumb/blind kid gets his ehad blown off. Although sadly that didn't happen in the film - instead he got cured and became Jesus??

Funt Solo

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Re: Help me understand this film
« Reply #1 on: 03 November, 2021, 11:47:51 AM »
I watched it when I was very young - and never again. And, I expect, never will again.

It's a cultural touchstone. You check it off the list and move on.
++ map ++ thrills ++ coma ++

Hawkmumbler

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Re: Help me understand this film
« Reply #2 on: 03 November, 2021, 12:06:59 PM »
Vibes, its all about pure vibes. 'Sense' should be checked out at the door.

TOMMY rocks.

milstar

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Re: Help me understand this film
« Reply #3 on: 03 November, 2021, 12:27:41 PM »
This is movie isn't made to be understood. But wait 'til you see Lisztomania. Probably the most deranged, disgusting film ever. But that's why I love Russell as filmmaker. I don't have to like films, but I like his audacity as filmmaker.
Reyt, you lot. Shut up, belt up, 'n if ye can't see t' bloody exit, ye must be bloody blind.

Jim_Campbell

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Re: Help me understand this film
« Reply #4 on: 03 November, 2021, 01:19:55 PM »
Vibes, its all about pure vibes.

Plus, Ann Margaret covered in baked beans. It's searing critique of consumerism. Or something. ;-)
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AlexF

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Re: Help me understand this film
« Reply #5 on: 03 November, 2021, 03:32:28 PM »
So it's not just me then!
Am super exicted to see Lizstomania one day, have heard (and even seen snippets of) good things.

Dandontdare

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Re: Help me understand this film
« Reply #6 on: 03 November, 2021, 06:40:39 PM »
Tommy was one of the first albums I had, so I knew the story before I saw the film and absolutely love both.

Basically, young Tommy's dad is "killed" in the war, and he goes deaf dumb and blind from the trauma. His step dad (Ollie Reed) is a bastard. Uncle Ernie abuses him, Cousin Kevin bullies him and Reed takes him to the Acid Queen to see if drugs will help. Reed  is frustrated with the boy who stares at himself in the mirror all day. When his dad miraculously turns up alive, Reed kills him (this bit isn't referenced in the album lyrics, just the film). Tommy's unique talent is to play pinball by instinct, beating Elton John's Pinball Wizard. He becomes a cult figure, which his family try to cash in on with tours and holiday camps. In a fit of anger, Reed smashes Tommy's mirror causing him to snap out of his afflictions with the final "I'm free" song, and he becomes even more of a messiah-like figure. His followers riot tearing down the camp.
« Last Edit: 03 November, 2021, 06:42:55 PM by Dandontdare »

Tiplodocus

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Re: Help me understand this film
« Reply #7 on: 04 November, 2021, 12:24:41 AM »
I don't often have problems with comprehension but often struggle with interpretation. Just watched GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL and while fun and very, very pretty, I struggled with themes.
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Funt Solo

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Re: Help me understand this film
« Reply #8 on: 04 November, 2021, 02:59:30 AM »
++ map ++ thrills ++ coma ++

AlexF

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Re: Help me understand this film
« Reply #9 on: 04 November, 2021, 09:54:37 AM »
Many thanks, DDD, that's a great summary fo what was actually goin on. Somehow I totally missed the theme about Tommy starting at himself in mirrors all the time. So it's a thinly-veiled metaphor for a rock star with Daddy issues who thinks he might just be the Messiah, but really all he wants is to be left alone?

sheridan

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Re: Help me understand this film
« Reply #10 on: 04 November, 2021, 11:27:11 AM »
Compare and contrast with (the film version of) Pink Floyd's The Wall (featuring a rock star whose father died in the war and lets power go to their head when everybody starts to worship them on stage).

Goosegash

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Re: Help me understand this film
« Reply #11 on: 04 November, 2021, 12:13:57 PM »
Tommy definitely has to rank as one of the most absurd films ever made. I remember watching it when it came on TV with my jaw agape, probably going "What? What? What??"

Utterly ridiculous on every level, and just when you think it's reached a peak of ludicrosity, bloody Jack Nicholson turns up!

I have got a strange urge to watch it again after all these years just to see if it's as bad as I remember.

Dandontdare

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Re: Help me understand this film
« Reply #12 on: 04 November, 2021, 01:10:43 PM »
I never quite figured out where the baked beans scene fits in though...

... just when you think it's reached a peak of ludicrosity, bloody Jack Nicholson turns up!

Holy crap, I'd totally forgotten that he's in it

Dandontdare

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Re: Help me understand this film
« Reply #13 on: 04 November, 2021, 01:44:42 PM »
This lyrics website allows user to add comments about a song's meaning - often they're trite or plain wrong, but the Tommy ones seem pretty good - fully explains what's behind each song:

https://genius.com/albums/The-who/Tommy

Rara Avis

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Re: Help me understand this film
« Reply #14 on: 04 November, 2021, 03:52:14 PM »
Tommy was one of the first albums I had, so I knew the story before I saw the film and absolutely love both.

Basically, young Tommy's dad is "killed" in the war, and he goes deaf dumb and blind from the trauma. His step dad (Ollie Reed) is a bastard. Uncle Ernie abuses him, Cousin Kevin bullies him and Reed takes him to the Acid Queen to see if drugs will help. Reed  is frustrated with the boy who stares at himself in the mirror all day. When his dad miraculously turns up alive, Reed kills him (this bit isn't referenced in the album lyrics, just the film). Tommy's unique talent is to play pinball by instinct, beating Elton John's Pinball Wizard. He becomes a cult figure, which his family try to cash in on with tours and holiday camps. In a fit of anger, Reed smashes Tommy's mirror causing him to snap out of his afflictions with the final "I'm free" song, and he becomes even more of a messiah-like figure. His followers riot tearing down the camp.

So basically Hamlet on acid?