Sunday, September 11, 2005


Biopics of rock bands are usually atrocious. The director chooses an actor that vaguely resembles the lead singer, and has him mime his way through a collection of greatest hits, never appearing as more than a caricature of the original. The execrable 'The Doors' is one example.
Backbeat took a very different approach, covering the genesis of the Beatles as a rock band on Hamburg's Reeperbahn during the early 1960's.
Ian Hart was cast as John Lennon. He looks nothing like Lennon, but managed to capture perfectly Lennon's sneering, cynical wit. You really feel that you are watching the young Lennon, and you understand the pain and insecurity that drives his musical ambition.
As an evocation of a time and place, it is masterful. You can feel the benzedrine rush of the performances, and the claustrophobic atmosphere of the Star Club seems to close in around you.
The film focuses on the relationship between Lennon and his best friend Stuart Sutcliffe. Sutcliffe was an outstanding artist, and overshadowed Lennon in terms of the attention he was receiving for his paintings. He also had the prototypical rock star look, even if his musical talent was negligible to non existent. Sutcliffe collapsed and died from a cerebral haemorage while in his early twenties.
Lennon was haunted by the death of his mother and Sutcliffe. His complex personality, and often cruel behaviour towards those closest to him, have been well documented. It's quite often the case that people with immense creative imaginations act with little regard for their loved ones.
Backbeat captures the exhiliration of early rock and roll, and takes us back to a world on the brink of transformation.


Wyndham said...

Someone once told me that Steven Dorff got all queenie on the set and demanded one of the production staff to buy him a silver plectrum for his character Sutcliffe to use. The production person duly went out and got a silver plectrum - in fact, he got all the actors silver plectrums to use. There you go, my Backbeat story. Sutcliffe's girlfriend was very beautiful wasn't she? I don't mean Laura Palmer.

Wyndham said...

I notice you've got rid of your word verification - any reason?

Herge Smith said...

Although Laura Palmer weren't bad looking either, until she got stuffed in that plastic bag and dumped in the lake. That didn't do her complexion any favours.

garfer said...

Silver plectrum! Wanky big head Yank.
Dunno were word verifications gone. I think I'll leave it off though.
Yeah, Laura Palmer was quite toothsome. I liked Twin Peaks. It had a surreal atmosphere and some seriously creepy characters.

MHN for short said...

Very nice, love. will have to check this one out.

MHN for short said...

Dave & I love Twin Peaks. When we went to the NorthWest we saw the lodge where they filmed, the waterfall at the opening credits, the "Twin Peaks" mountain and had coffee from the cafe in town. And yes it was a "damn fine cup of coffee." We took pictures. One day I will post them. We also went to Roswell, NM. on that trip and had breakfast at the Crashdown Cafe. It was featured in the series "Roswell"(a WB series, pretty good.).