October 19, 2020

1975-04-02 – Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph

1975 04 02 Colorado_Springs_Gazette_Telegraph_Wed__Apr_2__1975_

Royal EmberhafiiI—imemto

Rex Reed

Tommy, the Ken Russell ex- Russell sees the story of,
Tommy as. a definition of reh-

‘Tfll’azanza based on the 1969 . . , _ . .
rock opera by The Who, turns gious hypocrisy and uses-it as a

nut to be a surprisingly fresh parallel with Hollywood, my-_
approach to noise and teenage thOIOE)’.. A vholve'nie-Warea Of
trivia. Nobody could've been mindexpan’sion results fromthe
1more surprised than this critic. movie version ofT'ommy thatI
having learned through the never imagined from listening‘
tagonl’ of experience what to to the music. Russellc'orrelates
dread from both Ken Russell the exploitation of charismatic
and the I‘ock-move genre. But spirtual figures with the way
the new musical at the Ziegfjeld fans. build up superstars to
signals the perfect mating of1 crucify them publicly. You catt’t
fantasy and mad genius. RusJ take the sexual and atomic
sol] usuall}~ wrecks his films by stimuli inherent in l‘OCk and
sar'rlflt'ing coherence for vulgar‘ translate them into visual terms
effects. Tommy is the perfect} unless you’re a maniac, but
material to stretch his ex-ti Russell has the qualifications.
pressn'e imagination. l He concentrates on the music
The thin story of a childi but emphasizes the sociological
struck deaf. dumb and blind} overtones as well —— the search
through the psychic shock of for a new Messiah, the psy-
watching his mother‘s lover! choiogical worship of lowerclass
I‘murder his real father provides' rock stars by upper and middle-
fthe perfet't fodder for Ken Rus- class groups, even the rock
tsell‘s‘perverted cinematic skills. stars in the movie put down
,‘and since he's alwayshad psy- rock, giving Tommy a satirical
chic blocks about directing dia- hunch.
11053119. that problem is 911W" Tomnw epitomizes the drug.
hated entirely. The wild, caco-j induced subculture of the Six-
'phonous ”Ck score by Peter! ties and the material is dated.
Townshend is all “9 needs. It's practically an artifact. So
”The rest IS all iinagery..a11d many advances have been
its a feast for the eye. Visual‘ made (even in rock music)

‘ . . . . ‘
suns turn-into airplanes. air . since The Who burst on the

planes turn into crosses. crosses? 3
turn into dancing girls in at “
galaxy of psychedelic stars. Le-,
gions of blind. crippled and dis- 1

eased people roll through a. .
temple in wheelchairs worship-i Of It was never any good in the

ping-Marilyn Monroe as though first place). But Ken Russell
she was, the Holy Mother. has found the key to making it

Chorus girls in feathers andgas iWOFk- There are repellent and

masks leap through the flames mauseating things in it. You
3
i
l
l

"' 7 7“

scene that a lot of the music is
just plain old-fashioned (some

of a burning, wartime London. {have 10 BXPBCt Ken RUSSBH to
Tina Turner. pulsating and un- push something over the hill of
dulating like there’s no tomor- 'samty and this time it comes
row. screeches her way through , ‘mOSt HOthly When Ann-Margret

l . . .
,3 lot of hypodermic hyperbole éwrtthes around in an orgiastie

as me Acid Queen. tappingbut {room full of melted chocolate,
her . rhythms with blood-red , lSOflPSUdS and pork and beans.
nails while a totem of syringes B lit for the most part}

fill with plasma. Tommy 153 !Tommy is a dazzling spectacle
br'ut'alized by a sadistic cousinl that demands and holds the in-

in a hot yellow bathtub, violated] terest. It stuns the senses in a

by a perverted uncle on aKen' swirl of color, energy and ex-
Russell obscenity trip that Cltement. It's not a revolution,

w o u l d make sadomasochists but you could call it an artistic
blush, defied by pinball freaks revelation and mean it.

and eventually desecrated by
the worshippers who made him: - ‘ I