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71 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic entertainment -- and it makes you think too!
Written, directed and starring John Cameron Mitchell,this film categorizes itself as a "post-punk rock neo glam rock musical". I say it's in a category of it's own. And it completely blew me away.
Hedwig is the most outrageous transsexual character that has ever graced the stage or screen. The audience gets to know Hedwig as a REAL person and not a cartoon...
Published on April 9, 2002 by Linda Linguvic

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars Definitely an acquired taste
Definitely an acquired taste. The songs were interesting, but my wife wanted to watch this after seeing a performance on this year's Tony awards show. She didn't make it to the end, while I did
Published 21 days ago by jeff parnes


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71 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic entertainment -- and it makes you think too!, April 9, 2002
Written, directed and starring John Cameron Mitchell,this film categorizes itself as a "post-punk rock neo glam rock musical". I say it's in a category of it's own. And it completely blew me away.
Hedwig is the most outrageous transsexual character that has ever graced the stage or screen. The audience gets to know Hedwig as a REAL person and not a cartoon character. We see his childhood in East Germany, his romance with an army sergeant, the pressure he feels to have a gender change operation in order to marry his love and leave the oppression of the communist world. This story and the subsequent plot complications are told in flashback against a background of original rock music, whose lyrics throb with the meaning of love and the nature of gender. The sets are original and there's even a sequence where the audience is invited to sing along by following a bouncing ball. The story races along and there are animation sequences as Hedwig searches after lost love and a quest for gender identification. The costumes and wigs are magnificent and the camerawork makes the most of the space and balance of energy. It's an elaborate production. And it also has something important to say.
I loved the lights, the action, the camera, the costumes, the music, the story. But most of all I the loved the characters. Hedwig is simply wonderful! It's not for children though, or religious fundamentalists, or people easily disturbed by transsexualism. But for anyone who wants to see a fantastic rock musical that will make you think as well as entertain, don't miss it. Recommended for those hearty few.
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50 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easily the second-best film of 2001..., December 14, 2001
By 
Rob (New York, NY) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Hedwig and the Angry Inch (New Line Platinum Series) (DVD)
"Hedwig and the Angry Inch" bursts onto the screen with a ferocity and rock-and-roll energy not seen since the great rock operas of the 1970s. Not only can it claim to have taken "Rocky Horror"'s crown as the best cult musical of all time, but it's also one of the best musicals ever put on film. It is second only to another movie musical that was released this year, "Moulin Rouge." What do these two films have in common? They are both rock operas about people trying to find love. And that is where the similarity ends. How fitting that in the year 2001, the movie musical genre, which many have considered dead for the past 20 years, can be revitalized and reenergized and deconstructed by these two brilliant productions.
"Hedwig and the Angry Inch" is, ostensibly, the story of a gay man, growing up in East Berlin in the days before the Wall fell, who reluctantly agrees to have a sex change operation, so that he can marry an American G.I., and leave for America. Unfortunately, the operation is done incorrectly, leaving Hansel, now Hedwig, with a one-inch mound of flesh where his male member once was. As if that was not enough bad luck for her, her new husband, soon after bringing her to America, leaves her for another man. Hedwig is left high and dry, the very week that the Berlin Wall is torn down. "Good things come to those who wait," says the television announcer. This inspires Hedwig to go on a journey of self-discovery; to discover her other half, her soulmate--but is it a man or a woman? And where does she fit in, in the grand scheme of things? Is she meant to be a male, as she was born, or a female, as she became?
That is when we, the audience, realize that this is not merely a simple story of a down-on-her-luck drag queen trying to make it in the Big World. This is a film about the search for the Platonic ideal, blending the mythic and mundane into a fascinating exploration of what it means to be complete. Is Hedwig's mother right in saying, "To be free, one must give up a little part of oneself"? Or is Hedwig's lover, Tommy Gnosis, when he tells her that "there's no mystical design/no cosmic lover preassigned"? The film uses the Berlin Wall as a symbol of the division between two soulmates. Hedwig believes that no one is complete until he or she has found his soulmate. Once they are reunited, one has finally found oneself. Like Berlin finally reunited, Hedwig longs for that herself.
"Hedwig" plays like a cross between a documentary-style film a la "This is Spinal Tap," an MGM movie musical, an episode of "Behind the Music" (including tabloid covers and a clip of Hedwig on "The Rosie O'Donnell Show"), and "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." But it is so much more than that, based mostly on (1) its use of complex symbolism and mythical allusions and (2) the brilliant, heartfelt, funny, and sad performance of John Cameron Mitchell, who wrote, directed, and starred in both the original off-Broadway production of "Hedwig" and this film. The man is a creative genius and should receive a Best Actor Oscar nomination.
And what of the music? Simply brilliant, as well. "Hedwig" boasts, bar none, one of the best rock opera score of all time, except for, perhaps, "Rent." The music is raw energy incarnate. The melodies are amazingly tuneful, and range from hardcore punk to rock n' roll, to folksy, to soft, but never overly sappy, ballads. The lyrics are a revelation: more mature, nuanced, and finely tuned than any songs you are likely to hear in any other Broadway or rock venue. And, yes, contain a great deal of mythical, literary, and even biblical allusions.
The musical numbers are staged brilliantly, particularly "Wig in a Box," my favorite song in the film. A grungy trailer opens up and transforms itself into a beautiful, shiny, brightly colored stage for a great rock number. It's flights of fancy like this that make "Hedwig" so much fun.
The film also contains amazing work from its supporting cast, including Miriam Shor, playing Hedwig's husband, and Andrea Martin, playing Hedwig's publicist.
If you are looking for a rock musical that really rocks, but also has a very complex, multilayered, thought-provoking story under its shiny, glitzy veneer, look no further than "Hedwig." And you might want to consider buying the soundtrack, as well. The songs are impossible to get out of your head, but in a good way.
And I didn't even get to mention how hilariously funny the film is, as well. You will laugh long and hard; you will find yourself singing along to the music; and yes, you'll also find yourself extremely touched.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Take This One Down From The Shelf!, December 29, 2001
By 
Audrey (Sacramento, CA, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Hedwig and the Angry Inch (New Line Platinum Series) (DVD)
Hansel is a young boy growing up in communist East Berlin.
Hedwig Robinson is a divorced Army wife following her former lover turned Rock Icon, Tommy Gnosis, with her band "The Angry Inch".
How Hansel becomes Hedwig, and how Hedwig becomes whole, is the story told in "Hedwig and the Angry Inch".
A lot of people have drawn comparisons between "Hedwig" and "Rocky Horror Picture Show", and while both are glam rock musicals with a bit of "gender-bending" that started out as stage shows, that's about where the similarities end.
Where "Rocky Horror" is a sexual farce loosely based on Frankenstein, "Hedwig" takes it's direction from Aristotle's speech (from Plato's Symposium) on the origin of love, essentially that once upon a time, humans had twice the arms, legs, and faces we have now, but were cut in two by the gods for being too proud - love comes from a desire to find the half we were seperated from.
Hansel's search leads him to an American GI who asks to marry him, but with the stipulation that "in order to leave, you have to leave a little somtehing behind". Hansel adopts his mother's name and hesitantly undergoes a botched sex change (in the same fashion as a back alley abortion), which leaves him with an "angry inch" of flesh.
A year later, a newly divorced woman scraping by on odd jobs and babysitting gigs, Hedwig meets and falls in love with Tommy Speck, whom she soon decides is her "other half". When Tommy decides he can't handle who (what?) she is, and runs away to become a rock star with the songs they wrote together, Hedwig takes to stalking him, shadowing his tour with a tour of her own through a chain of seafood restaurants.
As an unconventional love story whose ultimate message is "love thyself", "Hedwig" is a movie with a lot of laughs and a lot of heart. in creating an over the top, in your face star who's alternately cruel and heartbroken, John Cameron Mitchell manages to give us a completely (and surprisingly) believable character that despite having little in common with, almost everyone can identify with.
As if the movie weren't fabulous enough, the dvd comes with extended footage, a commentary by JCM and director of photography, some of the best menu design I've yet to see on a dvd, and best of all, a wonderful feature length documentary on the history of "Hedwig" from the first performance at Squeezebox to the present, including interviews with "Hed-Heads" (fans) discussing how much it's meant to them and how much a part of their lives it's become.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delectable, off-beat opera treat for anyone w/ taste, May 1, 2003
This review is from: Hedwig and the Angry Inch (New Line Platinum Series) (DVD)
It probably helped that I rented this DVD on a whim sans any expectation, but this is a bold, emotional and staggeringly creative piece of work. You'll leave feeling for the characters, especially the lead, Hedwig.
First off, the soundtrack would blow Moulin Rogue out of the water (imvho). Fabulous dance extravaganzas, and a script based on a somewhat offbeat theme (the homosexual protagonist has had a botched sex change operation which was a pre-requisite to marry the man he loved). An engaging narrative and a wild full-frontal assault on the clash between rhetorical and real freedom. This for me was enough to make it worth the ride. Terrific performances by everyone, especially Mitchell, the man behind the stage version himself.
A slight caveat...not certain whether the movie simply tapers off at the end or if that was an intended parting effect, but be aware that the "plot" as such gets abandoned about 20 mins before the end of the movie and it's up to you to decide whether what remains is a logical or aesthetic next step toward some kind of arty resolution. Works for some, doesn't for others.
Definitely worth a shot. At the very minimum you'll have a treat of some great music (it was rock I am told, but I digress).
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leave your walls behind, August 29, 2005
By 
john b (Concord, NC) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Hedwig and the Angry Inch (New Line Platinum Series) (DVD)
I didn't go seeking Hedwig, someone else got me to watch it. I admit that I had my misgivings about doing so, having a dim knowledge of what the plot was about, and even 10 minutes into it, I was still thinking, "Okay, I'm never going to like this."

So let me say one more thing: This movie is not for everyone.

But it was for me.

I really, really love this movie. Hedwig starts out in the beginning being a character that is almost too big for life, someone that you can believe exists but that you don't believe has a lot of depth to them. You start imagining that (s)he is one more glam-queen failed rock-star stereotype that has found her/his way into a movie. That's what threw me towards not liking this movie.

But it's simply not true, not even vaguely. As the movie progresses, you start to see the subtle shades that this character possesses; you see the tragedies that have bounced this character through his/her life, see the triumphs that (s)he almost touched, you see the things that are important and that make her/him who (s)he is....and you begin to realize that Hedwig might be, just might be...beautiful.

That's right. That's the conclusion I came to at the end of the movie, that despite all the strange and bad things that had beaten this character through his/her life, that at the end of the day the only thing that Hedwig really wanted was to be loved for who (s)he really is on the inside. That idea is what sets this movie ten leagues above other movies like it; it's an almost phantom-of-the-opera-ish idea, hiding behind the make-up and lights just to try and reach out to people who will never understand.

There is also the idea of this being a sort of love story. It's not a boy-girl love story by any means but more of a soul-mate kind. Where is the other half that completes each of us? Who is it? What energy type is it? Masculine? Feminine? This movie takes that idea and blurs the edges, making us guess at it until the final scenes in the movie. It comes across in such a way as to make anyone think about the idea (no matter what their personal ideas on gender roles might be). It's presented in a very positive fashion.

If you're going to watch this movie, let me at least point out the one thing that ought to be obvious (but should still be pointed out): Listen to the lyrics!!!! The songs are subtle (and great!) and help move the story along in a way that simple dialogue could never do. The anger and sadness that is built into them is inspiring to behold. This is what a modern musical should look like.

The only thing I didn't like (and is worth noting) would be some of the sets. I didn't like the fold-down trailer that acted as a sort of stage for one of the movie's songs. I didn't like how tight the shots were when the boy (Gnosis) goes to watch Hedwig perform with his Asian back-up band (which was funny). Some of those things got on my nerves...but they are tiny, insignificant details that should never, ever keep you from seeing this movie.

Bottom line: If you don't have inhibitions and want to enjoy a well-told tale with a lot of depth to it, this is a great movie!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impossible to Digest in a Single Viewing, February 27, 2002
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Hedwig and the Angry Inch (New Line Platinum Series) (DVD)
This is a DVD to own, not to rent.
I was more than a little irked when professional reviewers and friends alike repeatedly told me last summer than Hedwig was "better than Moulin Rouge." I enjoyed Moulin Rouge very much, thank you, and I was not interested in some artsy take on a similar theme. Alas, despite my best efforts, Hedwig won me over. If only I could get the appropriate hat-thingie, I would be a yet-another Hed-head.
Hedwig is good for all the reasons Moulin Rouge was good: it is a fun, campy, musical pleasurefest for the eyes and ears. But Moulin Rouge was a story created around songs, while Hedwig's songs come from her story-- and we really believe her heart.
I thought I understood Hedwig when I saw it in the theater the first time. When I went back, I caught many thoughts that I missed. Now-- after an embarassingly large number of views on DVD-- I look back in wonder at how I missed so much. Hedwig is bitter-- and has more reason to be than any of the bitter people I have ever come across (or have come across me). Life has dealt her some severe blows, but her wit and her music keep her afloat... barely. It takes Hedwig many years to realizes that despite all the changes she has been through, it is still her blind, unquestioned belief that she lacks what it takes to be whole-- a myth many believe in-- that drags her down.
Hedwig is a story of transformation. Once a viewer gets over the male-female dichonomy she personifies, we see that the change she made physically from man to not-a-woman-or-a-man does not cut as deeply as the emotional changes from being betrayed by her father, mother, and lovers.
John Cameron Mitchell is completely believable as Hedwig. Oddly, Miriam Shor's performance as Yitzak is so well executed it gives me the creeps. But it is Michael Pitt's Tommy Gnosis that looks most at home on the screen. I expect that Hedwig and "Bully" will be early mentions in a long career for this guy.
This film is richer with multiple viewings, so let me put on some advertising spin: Hedwig is the movie that keeps on giving. It fills you up and never lets you down. It is the taste of a New Generation.
Watch it. Even my 64-year-old mother liked it-- and learned from it, too!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Internationally Ignored Song Stylist No More!!!!, December 8, 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Hedwig and the Angry Inch (New Line Platinum Series) (DVD)
This might just be the best movie I've ever seen (and I can't stop listening to the album). Hedwig's story is hilarious, tragic and emotionally moving. Although the plot might seem a bit strange when described, somehow I feel like I love and know Hedwig, and I root for her to find herself-her missing half. John Cameron Mitchell gives a WONDERFUL acting performance and Michael Pitt is deliciously vacant as Hedwig's rock star love Tommy Gnosis. I've seen the film twice so far and am not the least bit sick of it. I could watch it 1000 more times. I wish there could be a sequel. Do yourself a favor and watch his film. The lines alone that you will take away from it are worth the price.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I put on my make-up...", December 14, 2001
By 
David S. Minjares (Montebello, CA. USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Hedwig and the Angry Inch (New Line Platinum Series) (DVD)
"Hedwig and The Angry Itch" comes at a critical time when popular arts, specifically acting/theatre and rock music, have sunk to an all-time low.

Who knew that a movie/play/satire about a East German tranvestite rock and roller would be such an inspiring movie? I sure as hell didn't when I first viewed this during the summer. I walked out of the theatre with a lot of hope for the future.

Face it, actors/actresses don't know how to act anymore without exhibiting some degree of self-consciousness. John Cameron Mitchell, who also conceived the original play and did a terrific job of directing, gets 100 into the role of Hedwig, a character that is flamboyant, absurd, funny, heartbreaking and a terrific communicator. And the man is the first genuine rock and roll heart I have connected with in too long a time. Even though it's a ficticious character, he blows away a good percentage of today's, ahem, "rock".

The lovely Miriam Shor is terrific playing a man (in this case, Yitzak, Hedwig's love interest) and shows an amazing energy, dramtic flair and punk rock spirit. A ballsy performance and an excellent example of losing yourself in the role and making it effective.

And the music? You like Punk, Gothic, Glam, Rockabilly, Heavy Metal, Psychedelia and good ol' knees up singalong? Look no further. This is some of the very best TRUE ROCK MUSIC (and Show music) that I have heard in ages. Catchy, nervy and rocks like hell.

The film is a remarkable acheivement. What could have turned into a routine filmed performance or even a performance piece, is actually a fine story with great editing, energy and plenty of color. It could have been a garish display, but Mitchell has done the impossible by keeping the camp and making a truly focused work. Let's see more form him.

The DVD comes with a remarkable 80+ miniute documentary about the history of "Hedwig" and interviews with all involved. This is truly indispensible stuff and highly entertaining.

Multi-media pieces usually don't work in the cinematic realm. John Cameron Mitchell has succeeded in this impossible accomplishment and also created what is a long overdue creation in cult cinema.

And that is? The first TRUE rival to "The Rocky Horror Picture Show". Give Rocky credit for starting the genre, but give John Cameron Mitchell plenty for taking it further and producing a labor of love on every level.

I will never tire of "Hedwig". It is most welcome in this current era of pop atrocity (Robbie Robertson croaking Supertramp? Yeah, right...).
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Inch Just Ain't Enough, March 29, 2007
By 
B. Merritt "filmreviewstew.com" (WWW.FILMREVIEWSTEW.COM, Pacific Grove, California United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Hedwig and the Angry Inch (New Line Platinum Series) (DVD)
Hedwig Robinson (John Cameron Mitchell) is a rocker. And she's got The Angry Inch beside her (and in her pants). As a young man, Hansel/Hedwig lived in East Berlin, right before The Wall came tumbling down. His sexual identity was always in question and when a cute, black, American soldier gives him a way out of the Eastern Bloc, Hedwig jumps on him (literally and figuratively). But he can't get to the other side of The Wall as a man, so an operation takes place to remove his vital functions below the waist ...if you get my meaning. Needless to say (if you pay attention to the title of the film), the surgery gets botched and leaves Hedwig with his "Angry Inch."

The anger is twofold. First is the failed operation; second is Hedwig's fury over stolen musical material by someone named Tommy Gnosis (Michael Pitt). Tommy is a rock-n-roll sensation, but it's all because of what Hedwig taught him in his early days. So Hedwig, in true b!tchy fashion, follows Tommy's rock tour around the world. But instead of playing in theaters and high end places, Hedwig and his Angry Inch band play at lowbrow restaurants, often to the dismay of its patrons who've simply come in to eat.

Hedwig's decline into obscurity is well played by director/actor John Cameron Mitchell. The musical soundtrack is very well done and the catchy tunes will have most movie watchers tapping their toes along to the rockin' beats. That he also remains angry at some of his band members is quite funny, actually holding them hostage by keeping their passports hidden away.

Revenge is the meal of the day as Hedwig finally meets up with Tommy again, eventually leading to Tommy's career demise and launching Hedwig into the spotlight. But is this what Hedwig really wanted? Not realizing the sacrifices she'd have to make, Hedwig decides to re-open her/his closet and show the world his/her true identity. He also sets free one of his band members who turns out to be a woman masquerading as a man, too.

Those willing to watch a film without sitting in judgement of the material will most likely eat this story up. It's quite funny, well acted, and has a rippingly good soundtrack. But if you're a staunch conservative or -- god forbid -- homophobic, you might want to pass on this one.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and Frustrating, January 16, 2002
This review is from: Hedwig and the Angry Inch (New Line Platinum Series) (DVD)
Meet Hans, an East Berlin teenager desperate to escape the communist block who undergoes a botched sex change operation in order to marry an American military man and flee to the free world. Now meet Hedwig, the rock-em-shock-em punk band leader into which Hans transforms himself when his American husband abandons him in the midwest. Embittered when the Berlin wall falls and furious when a later teenage-lover steals her music and becomes an arena-filling rock star, Hedwig now dogs the teenager's steps by staging a tour with her own band and following him from town to town.
John Cameron Mitchell, who co-wrote and starred in the New York show and who appears in the film as both director and star, mutes the more savage tones of the material in favor of pathos and a broader sense of the character's humanity; consequently, the film isn't really as far-out or edgy as it might seem, so it lacks the sharp bite you might expect. The film also seems a bit unfocused, a bit unstructured, and at times I felt a bit frustrated by what it leads you to expect but never actually delivers. Even so, Mitchell and company (especially Miriam Shor), give some extremely interesting and often drop-dead funny performances, and the music performed by the band as it tours is first rate throughout.
Sadly, some viewers will reject the film without seeing it on the basis of subject matter alone--which would be a mistake. Often funny, often touching, and certainly thought-provoking, HEDWIG packs a solid punch by appealing to the untapped creativity in all of us and leads us to question our own internal sense of unity. The characters and ideas it presents linger in mind afterward, and while Hedwig and her angry inch aren't quite as knock-out as you could wish they're still fascinating.
The DVD contains lots of extras, most notably a documentary (almost as long as the movie itself) that describes the creation of both stage show and film. The footage of the New York show is particularly fascinating.
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Hedwig and the Angry Inch (New Line Platinum Series)
Hedwig and the Angry Inch (New Line Platinum Series) by John Cameron Mitchell (DVD - 2001)
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