Review from the Vault: HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH

HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH (2001) – It just felt wrong putting out a review from the vault of Shortbus without its daddy – Hedwig – I freaking love this film.

How did it take me 7yrs to discover this film. I am ashamed of myself for judging the “book” by its cover. I had seen this dvd before in the “art” or “gay” section and thought rock musical? Not really for me. A friend lent me a bunch of dvd’s to watch while I have been dying of the flu. I actually watched Shortbus first (yesterday & see review from this morning) and was blown away so put on Hedwig.

 

Hedwig and the Angry Inch Movie Poster
Movie Poster for John Cameron Mitchell’s HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH

Hansel (John Cameron Mitchell), an East German “slip of a girlyboy” who loves philosophy and rock music, is stuck in East Berlin until he meets Luther Robinson (Maurice Dean Wint), a U.S. soldier. Luther falls in love with Hansel and the two decide to marry. This plan will allow Hansel to leave communist East Germany for the capitalist West. However, in order to be married, the couple must consist of a man and a woman. Hansel’s mother, Hedwig (Alberta Watson), gives her child her name and passport and finds a doctor to perform a sex change. The operation is botched, however, and her surgically constructed vagina heals closed, leaving Hansel – now Hedwig – with a dysfunctional one-inch mound of flesh between her legs, “with a scar running down it like a sideways grimace on an eyeless face.”

Hedwig goes to live in Junction City, Kansas as Luther’s wife. On their first wedding anniversary, Luther leaves Hedwig for another man. That same day, it is announced that the Berlin Wall has fallen and Germany will reunite.

 

Movie Poster for John Cameron Mitchell's HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH
Movie Poster for John Cameron Mitchell’s HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH

 

Hedwig recovers from the separation by forming a rock band composed of Korean-born Army wives which she names “The Angry Inch.” (The guitarist, Kwahng-Yi, is played by Sook-Yin Lee who stars in Mitchell’s 2006 film Shortbus). Hedwig befriends a shy and misunderstood Christian teenager Tommy Speck (Michael Pitt), with whom she writes some songs. (In the play, the actor playing Hedwig plays the role of Tommy as well as most of the other characters in the piece.) Hedwig gives him the stage name “Tommy Gnosis”, but he later leaves her and goes on to become a wildly-successful rock star with the songs Hedwig wrote alone and with him. “Internationally ignored” Hedwig and her Angry Inch are forced to support themselves by playing coffee bars and strip mall dives. In the film, these gigs are performed at a chain seafood restaurant called Bilgewaters.
Throughout the film, Hedwig refers to Aristophanes’ speech in Plato’s Symposium. This myth, retold by Hedwig in the song “The Origin of Love”, explains that human beings were once round, two-headed, four-armed, and four-legged beings. Angry gods split these early humans in two, leaving the separated people with a lifelong yearning for their other half. Hedwig believes that Tommy is her soul mate and that she cannot be whole without him. She feels driven to either reunite with him or destroy him. Plot Synopsis care of Wikipedia

Bloody Hell – it’s brilliant – I would have to say THE BEST ROCK MUSICAL EVER MADE!!!!! Rocky Horror I have never been a fan of – I watched it when I was really young and it kind of scared me. And then when working at George St Hoyts I played it pretty much every Friday night in the cinema to the freeks that dressed up and knew every line and maneuver. I think this scared me more. LOL

John Cameron Mitchell is a genius and truly inspirational, it wasn’t even until the credits I realised he was the main star and the director and the director of Shortbus!!! Please also note the amazing Micheal Pitt (Bully, The Dreamers, The Village) as Tommy Gnosis – this guy is amazing in whatever he does. Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a film musical based on the stage musical of the same name about a fictional rock and roll band fronted by an East German transgender singer. The text is by John Cameron Mitchell, and the music and lyrics are by Stephen Trask. The musical has gathered a devoted cult following similar to that of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. In 2001 the film won the Best Director and Audience Awards at the Sundance Film Festival as well as Best Directorial Debut from the National Board of Review, the Gotham Awards and the L.A. Film Critics. Mitchell received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor and the Premiere Magazine “Performance of the Year Award”. You would think that being a first time untrained director it would be a mediocre film but let me tell you this film hits on EVERY single level. The direction is flawless, the acting is superb and no wonder, he got the entire cast from the stage show for the film, the art direction is awe inspiring and the music deserves it complete own article. I am buying the soundtrack this week! I have no idea what else I can say – it’s a feast for two senses, if you could taste, smell and touch it you would be in heaven!! I am just mind blown (I think I like saying that) that this film did not get a mass release and clean up the Academy Awards. I suppose the topic is a little left of centre for the academy as opposed to say Chicago and the upcoming Mamma Mia.

If you haven’t yet seen this film, drop everything and do yourself the favour by witnessing this colorful extravaganza. When can we see the next Mitchell film?? I want I want I want more!!

 

5 Pops