Saturday, October 08, 2011

The Dioramas in Tommy

As mentioned a few posts ago, I don't see Ken Russell's film of Tommy as a "POP art musical" and I do not see it as a long form music video/precursor to MTV either. (To paraphrase Jello Biafra, it took MTV one year to sink as low as commercial TV had in 25. MTV was and is 99% rubbish.) I instead see Ken Russell's film of Tommy as a series of living, breathing life size, three-dimensional storyboards. Illusion through depth perception. Without one word of dialogue and without sub-titles, I see this diorama format extending into the acting as well.

The mise-en-scène is what allows the actors in Tommy to bring to the screen the corrupt and flawed adults that are around all children. In any film (provided the script is good), with even the weakest and phoniest of characters, we are "reassured" via their spoken dialogue that the characters are somehow "trying" and worthy of empathy even if they are screwed up. In Tommy however, the adults can't talk their way out of their failures. For example: Uncle Ernie winks at Tommy's step father Bernie while reading the "Gay News" heralding "Obscenity Triumphs" with a garter belt on his head and Tommy lying in bed nearby. He can't talk his way out of being a child abuser and rapist. Bernie stares at him and sets his paper on fire, effectively burning (and thus erasing) the truth away to ashes. The lack of dialogue does not give Bernie the chance to feign concern, express anger or speak with indifference.

Here are the scenes broken down that we'll be studying:

1. Opening sequence

2. Called off to war and plane crash

3. Ball bearing factory, birth of Tommy and cenotaph

4. Bernies Holiday Camp

5. 1951- Tommy's father's murder-What About The Boy

6. Amazing Journey

7. Christmas

8. Eyesight to the Blind

8. Acid Queen

9. Do You Think It's Alright? (1) Cousin Kevin

10. Do You Think It's Alright? (2) Uncle Ernie

11. Do You Think It's Alright?(3) Sparks

12. Extra, Extra (1)

13. Pinball Wizard

14. Champagne aka Beans and Chocolate

15. There's a Doctor

16. Go to the Mirror

17. Tommy, Can You Hear Me?/Smash The Mirror

18. I'm Free

19. Mother and Son

20. Sensation

21. Extra, Extra(2)/Sally Simpson

22. Welcome

23. T.V. Studio

24. Tommy's Holiday Camp

25. We're Not Gonna Take It

26. See Me, Feel Me

27. Listening to You/End

Labels: , , , ,


Blogger grace said...

the scene with the newspaper burning, the wink etc. I found when I first viewed that, as particularily creepy. Keith was spot on in his "character" there, as was Oliver Reed. I always found Oliver Reed creepy after viewing Tommy. In whatever role he was in, much like Robert Duvall. don't know why. very fine actors, and respect them for that.

4:48 AM  
Blogger Amanda and SuperAmanda™ said...

Oliver Reed played the biggest slime so well!

5:55 AM  
Blogger par.nordstrom said...

Dear ole Ollie comin off as ´creepy´ ! Oh well ,just goes to prove what an amazinly awesum actor dis dude could be...

5:39 PM  
Blogger Amanda and SuperAmanda™ said...

I love Sir Olly Bolly. We his fans all dream about him and ask him for good luck. The night he died I went to get the paper to read his obit and as I opened the newsstand nine dollars in change poured out at me.

7:13 AM  
Blogger par.nordstrom said...

@Amanda:NINE bucks? Wow ! Talk abt havin a healin effect , even after one´s death ... Amazin , like Russian saint of yore .

8:01 AM  
Blogger par.nordstrom said...

Re : Jello Biafra ./ Contrary to common belief Jello was nevva ( & still ain´t) too drunk to discuss politix/international affairs . & he certainly nevva EVVA was too drunk to fuck.

8:07 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home