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Joy Division (The Miriam Collection)

4.5 out of 5 stars 61 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Joy Division is a "fascinating look at the brief but vital trajectory of a band that died with its troubled frontman, Ian Curtis" (Jason Gargano, Cincinnati CityBeat), only to be reborn as the equally influential New Order. Featuring interviews with all surviving band members, Joy Division explores the Manchester origins of this revolutionary act, their partnership with Factory Records founder Tony Wilson, and collaboration with legendary producer Martin Hannett.

While Michael Winterbottom's 24 Hour Party People took on impresario Tony Wilson and Anton Corbijn's Control concentrated on singer Ian Curtis, Grant Gee's Joy Division opts for non-fiction over biopic. Together, the three films create a multi-dimensional portrait of Manchester in the post-punk era. Curtis's minimalist quartet arose simultaneously as a product of and a reaction to their industrial environment. As Factory Records co-founder Wilson states, "I don't see this as the story of a pop group, I see this as the story of a city that once upon a time was shiny and bold and revolutionary." (Wilson succumbed to cancer shortly afterwards.) Written by Jon Savage (England's Dreaming), the narrative follows the oral history form. Aside from the surviving members of the band, Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, and Stephen Morris (Curtis committed suicide in 1980), other speakers include designer Peter Saville, Curtis's girlfriend Annik Honoré, and musician Genesis P. Orridge (Throbbing Gristle). Only Curtis's wife, Deborah, chose not to appear on camera, so Gee (Radiohead: Meeting People Is Easy) uses text from her biography, Touching from a Distance. Loaded with rare audio and visual material, like Joy Division's aborted RCA sessions and manager Rob Gretton's notes, Gee presents the definitive documentary of a timeless band. Unlike Corbijn's stately feature, his stylish tribute ends on a more optimistic note: with the birth of New Order in the 1980s and the re-birth of Manchester in the 2000s. Extra features include 75 minutes of bonus interviews and a BBC performance of "Transmission." --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Tony Wilson, Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris, Peter Saville
  • Directors: Grant Gee
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: The Weinstein Company
  • DVD Release Date: June 17, 2008
  • Run Time: 96 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00104AYGA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,580 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Joy Division (The Miriam Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Doug Anderson VINE VOICE on June 17, 2008
Format: DVD
Tremendous documentary. Interviews with Annik Honore (finally!), Tony Wilson (and not someone playing Tony Wilson), and all of the surviving band members (Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris, & Peter Hook) plus Buzzcock Pete Shelley and Buzzcocks manager Richard Boon, plus music journalist and Joy Division biographer Paul Morley, plus album designer Peter Saville ... this is really a goldmine for Joy Division fans. Truly, an overwhelming amount of detailed information here. Even if you think you've heard it all, stories become more than just talk when told by someone who was actually there. Plus loads of vintage footage of the band performing in various venues. More than I knew existed.

Interestingly enough the documentary starts off with a quote, that I found to be quite compelling:

To be modern is to find ourselves in an environment that promises us adventure, power, joy, growth, transformation of ourselves and the world--and at the same time that threatens to destroy everything we have, everything we know, everything we are.

--Marshall Berman, All That is Solid Melts Into Air

This will give you some indication that this is not your typical rock documentary that recounts the rise and fall of yet another generic rock band. This is a rock documentary that is completley different from any that you have seen before, and that is fitting given the subject matter. Manchester, we learn, was in many ways the first modern city. And Joy Division, in many ways was creatively inspired (if that is the right word) by the fact that they lived in a purely utilitarian city designed to maximize economic efficiency. (Bernard Sumner mentions, almost in passing, that he never saw a tree until he was nine.
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As a fan of Joy Division, you know how it's been. You wait, hope and pray for anything you haven't heard, read or seen before. A rare, live version of Shadowplay on an import CD that might send tingles up your spine. Just like the first time. Or a piece of new information in a hard to find book that might shed more light on the mystery that is Joy Division. We want to know more, we want to know why, we want to know everything.

Now we can rest. Joy Division (The Miriam Collection) (2007) is the elixir we've been seeking for a lifetime. No more second rate documentaries thrown together, offering nothing. Here are the older men; New Order opening up as never before. Anton Corbijn recounting why he moved to Manchester. Annik Honore coming forward after a quarter century with a perspective only she could have. And Genesis P-Orridge.

Many people forget or aren't aware that Throbbing Gristle, the most influential band industrial music has ever known, were huge fans of Joy Division. While their musical styles are different, both offer heavy soundtracks of a grim, bleak and hopeless late 1970's England. Genesis got to know Ian towards the end of his days and offers great insight into the man well beyond the myth. Yes, Genesis does look more and more like Liza Minelli every day and that can have a disturbing effect on viewers. Yet after seeing the factory heavy landscape of Manchester and England some 30 years ago, I'm frankly surprised that anyone survived. So, grab another tube of lipstick, Genesis, and have fun.

Sometimes, penetrating the mythology and legend of a enigmatic band can be a disappointment. After learning what you longed to learn, the esotericism is gone and little remains. That is not the case here.
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Format: DVD
From beginning to end, this was an illuminating look at the phenomenon that was Joy Division. I was motivated to watch this after viewing the film Control, and this is definitely a companion piece to it. However, I was also very much reminded of New Order Story - the documentary about the band that rose from Joy Division's ashes. The Joy Division beginnings are mentioned in NOS, but are for the most part glossed over. That film covered the Who and What of JD before continuing on; this documentary talks about the Why, and in great depth.

The other members of Joy Division were famously quiet on the topic of Ian Curtis for many years; it's wonderful to hear them open up and talk about it. It was also enlightening to FINALLY hear from Annik Honore'. She's been kind of a biographical footnote for years, and is mentioned only in passing in Deborah Curtis's biography of Ian. Finally we can put a face to the name and hear her side of Ian's story.

If you're at all interested in Ian and the band, you'd be foolish NOT to see this.
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Format: DVD
Between "24 Hour Party People," Anton Corbijn's feature "Control," and Grant Gee's documentary "Joy Division," I think Gee's docu is the best. "24 Hour" sets the stage, delineating the context of Madchester in the early 80s and Tony Wilson's patronage as the Medici of the Northwest, discovering Joy Division/New Order. It's the most fun.

Grant Gee's "Joy Division" is informative and rich, with a lot more to give than the very limited feature "Control." The documentary focuses on outstanding faces, in crisp black and white, filtered through Final Cut Pro - it's a tasty, original and restrained blend of a music video and straight-up talking head interviews. As each new speaker is introduced, Gee brings up his or her face in soft focus behind their name-title. As the name fades from the screen and they begin to talk, the face snaps into focus.

The personalities are priceless - the surviving members of the band are honest and bare-faced, not "rockstar" at all, never mind that as the ultra-hip New Order they had the best-selling 12" single in history with "Blue Monday." They're fabulous to watch and listen to. The historic footage of Ian Curtis shows us his sculpted white-marble features, the full mouth of Michelangelo's David, punctuated by icy blue eyes - someone in the film says his eyes were "translucent." One in a million, that face.

Annik Honore, Ian Curtis's Belgian girlfriend, is articulate and open, glamorous and ethereally beautiful. If she broke up his marriage, one of the catalysts of Curtis's final breakdown, it's easy to understand her pull on him. Curtis's wife Deborah does not appear on screen, though her writing does.
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