Tommy: The Movie Ken Russell

Tommy: The Movie Ken Russell
Much of the Who's 1969 rock opera album, Tommy, was hard to follow. The saga of a "deaf, dumb and blind kid" who becomes both a pinball champion and religious cult leader took a big step into the deep hole of suspended disbelief. Comprehending such a story via loosely connected songs was difficult, but all that changed in 1975 when guitarist Pete Townsend and director Ken Russell began to play with the album's plot line, thereby creating an even crazier spectacle with Tommy the film. We could witness the insanity as young Tommy sees his presumed-dead father murder his mother's current lover, creating a trauma that sends him into a state of muteness. Eventually, after multiple tries, he's cured and in mock-Jesus fashion, uses his enlightenment to help those around him. Still, it isn't until Tommy's parents are killed that he truly becomes free. While the movie is about as strange as anything committed to celluloid can get, thanks to constant singing, an obtuse structure and a general story that's outright ridiculous, the means by which it's conveyed is so brilliant it has justified the flick for almost 40 years. Perfect, star-studded performances from Ann Margaret, Jack Nicholson, Eric Clapton, Tina Turner and Elton John ensure that every note of Tommy is in tune, and with unique variations from the album versions. Each character maximizes their role, creating unforgettable icons and a gloriously grandiose film. As for Tommy's Blu-Ray treatment, a video remastering enhances the warmth and glow of mid-'70s cinematography and, most importantly, the 5.1 delivery of the Who's inimitable music ensures Tommy is an endlessly engaging bout of psychedelia, oddities and air guitar-wielding amusement. Now, if they could just do something about the lack of extras, other than the obligatory song book marking via movieIQ and BD-Live, which does squat to round out this enigmatic film and its amazing, updated treatment, we'd really "see it, feel it and touch it." (Sony)