#907. Quadrophenia (1979, Frank Roddam)

screened Sunday, February 4 2007 on Rhino DVD in Brooklyn NY TSPDT rank #469 IMDb

This time I may have been given a reprieve from my ever-lengthening assessments of the films in my project, as I came upon a stunning resource for the film: Quadrophenia.net. Featuring an abundance of materials on both the album by the Who and the film, with screen captures and video clips, it seems that the work in showcasing this film is done. What more is there for me to say?

Well, there's my own opinion on the film. Over the course of the week I will sift through the extras on the Rhino DVD (apparently not as content-rich as the recent Universal 2-disc Region 2 issue). I've already had fun playing with one of the extras, the interactive quiz "Are you a Mod or a Rocker?" To offer Ringo Starr's answer to the same question in A Hard Day's Night, "I'm a mocker" -- but after taking the quiz the DVD deduced that I was a square like Jimmy's mother in the film. :-(

As for the film itself, I found it to be a bracing, evocative and expressive recreation of mid-60s London youth culture. It managed to offer an abundance of historical detail and mood -- who would have expected a movie based on a Who album would be one of the pinnacles of British social realist cinema? But what elevates it above a run-of-the mill British kitchen sink realism, or some of those insufferably sneering Angry Young Man films from the 60s, is its ability to inspire wide-eyed awe for the excitement and emotional turmoil of the protagonist and his times, and sustain that spirit without succumbing to despondency or self-pity. It shares some of the great qualities of another film from '79, Walter Hill's The Warriors, in offering a larger-than-life urban youth underworld presented with straight-faced, no-nonsense bravado.

There are not a few tour de force sequences, such as one set in a dance hall and an epic mob scene in Brighton between the Mods, the Rockers and the riot police. I thought Phil Daniels to be perfect in the lead role as young Jimmy, who maintains a sympathetic air even when his insolence gets the better of him and he starts to self-destruct, resembling a psychotic Robert DeNiro towards the end. And one look at a young Sting in his screen debut as an uber-Mod makes his rockstar destiny pretty self-evident. And that ending, wow, talk about vertiginal ecstasy... More to come as I digest the DVD -- perhaps I will yet offer some captures or clips, or at least reference some from the Quadrophenia site.