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117 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Psychological drama about a criminal on the run who hides out with a rock star.

"I like that. Turn it up!" Performance is the Altamont of '60s cinema; psychedelic and hallucinatory, decadent and depraved, polymorphous-perverse. And you can dance to it! Melding the sex, drugs, and rock & roll ethos of swinging '60s London with the gangster film, Nicolas Roeg and Donald Cammell's genre-bending cult classic is so mind blowing that star James Fox did not act in a film again for nearly a decade. Fox stars as Chas, an "out of date" enforcer for crime kingpin Harry Flowers. Chas is a "nutcase," who likes "a little cavort," but when he kills someone he wasn't supposed to, he is forced to go on the lam. He takes refuge in a basement room belonging to Turner (Mick Jagger), a former rock star who has "lost his demon" and now lives as a recluse in his dilapidated house with his secretary/lover, Pherber (Anita Pallenberg, who was Rolling Stones bandmate Keith Richards' girlfriend at the time), and an androgynous French girl (Michele Breton). They enjoy a little cavorting themselves. In these drug-strewn surroundings, worlds collide and identities merge. "I know who I am," Chas tells Harry early on. He (and viewers) will become less sure as Performance unfolds. Completed in 1968 but shelved for two years, Performance was originally rated X and has been redesignated R. But it's still strong, potent stuff. With its elliptical editing, mirror images, and echoed dialogue that bridges the two worlds, Performance may not become clearer with repeat viewings, but there are fresh discoveries to be made each time. The killer soundtrack features Randy Newman, Ry Cooder, rap revolutionaries the Last Poets, and Jagger's own astounding "Memo from Turner." "I know a thing of two about performing, my boy," Turner tells Chas at one point. "The only performance that makes it... that makes it all the way, is the one that achieves madness." Performance makes it all the way. As Roeg is quoted in a featurette produced for this DVD, "After all this time, its mystery is part of its magic and attraction." --Donald Liebenson

Special Features

  • New featurette "Influence and Controversy"
  • Vintage featurette "Memo from Turner"
  • Theatrical trailer

Product Details

  • Actors: James Fox, Mick Jagger, Anita Pallenberg, Michèle Breton, Ann Sidney
  • Directors: Nicolas Roeg, Donald Cammell
  • Writers: Anita Pallenberg, Donald Cammell
  • Producers: David Cammell, Sanford Lieberson
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: February 13, 2007
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (117 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000JYW5EG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,759 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Performance" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

109 of 120 people found the following review helpful By Tracy Hodson VINE VOICE on March 16, 2005
Verified Purchase
Every time I hear Quentin Tarrantino claim to have invented non-linear story-telling, I want to scream. Nicolas Roeg (who photographed and co-directed) went on to make many, many non-linear films, starting with this one in 1969, as did many other directors from the 70's up to now (Steven Soderbergh, Terrence Mallick, to name just two), so please, Quentin, shut up. "Performance" was perhaps the most influential film in my own development as a director; film is a sculptural medium, and never illustrated more so than in this brilliant piece film which moves through time and space so gracefully, or jarringly, as required, while exploring identity, performance (of all sorts), spirituality, freedom from the prevailing standards of society--I could go on for pages, but will spare you. It can be found on video tape, mostly in "used" bins, and as it was shot in regular 35mm, you don't miss much of the frame, as it's close to your TV's format anyway.

Shot mostly hand-held, with Roeg using dissolves, double-exposures, color alteration, freeze-frames, and other Optical Printing techniques, as well as stunning sound design, the mind is assaulted by an abundance of images that you just have to sit back and absorb and allow them to tie themselves together later, when you have time to think about it. In order to tie characters and relationships together, one will start a sentence while another, in an entirely different place and situation, will finish it. This is used to both connective and ironic effect. "Performance" also contains the first "Rock Video" and a Rap Song (in 1969) by a group of drumming poets.
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful By J. S. Silke on May 14, 2004
Format: VHS Tape
Donald Cammell
"If Performance does not upset audiences," he explained, "then it is nothing."
My friend Neil and I have been waiting for some time to see this film at the cinema. It hasn't been widely available on video for some time and has not yet been released on DVD.
So we were overjoyed to see it was being shown at the Electric Cinema a wonderful recently revamped cinema in Notting Hill Gate, not a hundred yards from Powis Square, one of the main locations in the film.
Performance was financed by Warner Brothers in the late 60's, though it was not released for two years after its completion due to WB demanding recuts and probably hoping the whole sordid little film would be forgotten about.
Thankfully it wasn't, and has over the years become something important and special to many people.
Performance starts as a seemingly straightforward East end gangster film, typical of the period. However when Chas, played to perfection by James Fox, takes refuge in the bohemian lair that is Turners (Jagger) Powis Square townhouse, the pace and the feel of the film change dramatically.
Turner is a retired rock icon who is wallowing in in a filthy corner of his psyche while he decides whether to try and recapture his mojo or continue his hermit like existence. However the hermit tag only applies to Turners lack of contact with fresh air, not many hermits have two pretty free spirits in the form of Pherber (Anita Pallenberg ) and Lucy (Michele Breton) roaming naked around their self imposed prisons.
Pallenberg is the wild blonde who was probably didn't find it too hard to get into character, at the time of filming she was actually Keith Richards's girlfriend, and tales of a jealous Richards watching over the set are abound.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 23, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
One of the most astonishing movies of all time. In a nutshell, 'Performance' tells the story of London gangster Chas Delvin (James Fox), on the run from his old associates for an unauthorised murder. He hides out in the house of reclusive rock star Turner (Mick Jagger), who introduces Delvin to his bizarre world of sex, drugs, black magic and rock n' roll. The movie is packed with amazing performances all round, particularly from James Fox. The script by Donald Cammell is great and the direction by Cammell & Nicolas Roeg is superb. While obviously a product of the sixties the film has aged fairly well. It raises interesting and timeless questions about identity and duality. This film is very strange and very graphic. It does not make much sense at first, in fact it is a movie which demands to be seen more than once. Certainly once you see this movie it will stay with you.
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88 of 107 people found the following review helpful By Richard R. Carlton on October 25, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
This is one film where the legend does not obscure the brilliance of the plot, the direction of the scenes, and the players....the players with the famous goings on inside and outside the shoot. The cast was not only acting but actually doing the drugs and sex portrayed on the screen. The film pretty much destroyed everyone who worked on it except Mick and Keith and the Stones. Anita Palenberg was incoherent for years afterwards, James Fox underwent a religious experience and ceased acting for a decade, one actor became a heroin dealer, another committed suicide, another committed murder and became a junkie before he died young. Stephen Davis (in his book "Old Gods Almost Dead") says that when the original Cammell and Roeg print was shown to the Warner executives, one's wife vomited and the whole audience left the screening room before the film ended. The true legend of the rock hard, satanic Rolling Stones was born when the band survived both Performance and the only live murder ever included in a movie during the Altamont Festival (shown in the film "Gimme Shelter").
While you watch the film, remember that Keith Richards is waiting outside in his Bentley (writing You Got The Silver) while Anita (his girlfriend) seduces Mick (his best friend) for real on the closed set. The way I heard the story, when Cammell called the scene, to the amazement of the crew, they kept going through orgasm. Keith refused to give Cammell the newly recorded Let It Bleed songs for the soundtrack because of all this.....he told friends he knew that if he was on the set and saw Mick, the Stones would have been history....but the band was his life so he just waited it all out.
The studio shut down production and then refused to release the censored film for several years.
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