on December 24, 2003
When "Quadrophenia" first came out in 1979, I think most people were expecting a "Tommy"-like rock opera, with music by The Who blasting from the speakers and Roger Daltry playing pinball adorned in a mask. Much to most people's surprise, "Quadrophenia" is a story about teen angst in England, with background music by The Who. The story is the key, and "Quadrophenia" details the historic Mod/Rocker riots of the 1960s. The riots were fueled by teen rebellion, rock music and a youthful generation seeking its identity.
The beauty of "Quadrophenia" is the film's themes of youths trying to find their place in the world is timeless and internationally identifiable. You don't have to be a British lad to love this story. Several scenes are so emotionally harrowing as to be disturbing. The protagonist Jimmy Michael Cooper (brilliantly played by Phil Daniels) begins to self destruct as the movie progresses. He loses his home, his job, his girlfriend and eventually his identity in a haze of drugs and misguided motivation. The scene where he begs his ex-girlfriend to explain herself, to which she answers "It was just a giggle" will bring a tear to most eyes. It is the saddest form of rejection and as emotionally truthful a scene one is most likely to see.
I think many teenagers eventually go through a process similar to what is seen in "Quadrophenia." One's identity when growing up is always related to the music, the parties, the mode of dress and the friends one chooses. The world is seemingly yours. As the Mods begin their march in Brighton, chanting, screaming, arms wrapped around one another, they are a force. They can change the world. So when the world rudely interrupts the dream, as the police break up the riots, as people move on to the next day, one uncomfortably realizes it really was all just a "giggle."
This is the sad quandry Jimmy Michael Cooper must confront. When watching "Quadrophenia," specifically the final scene where he rides the stolen scooter along the cliffs of Brighton, you're never sure what choice Cooper is going to make.
The Mods most certainly fueled the eventual punk movement, and I think many people who love this film came from that 1980s generation. The clothes and the hairstyles (including Sting, in an early role as the coolest Mod) are identifiable to the punk generation. What Jimmy Michael Cooper eventually confronts is similar to the conflicts of the punk generation (or any teen generation for that matter). Sadly, the movement must be left behind and we must ask ourselves what the meaning of it all was. To reach maturity, many of us must travel the same path of Jimmy Michael Cooper - and he's faced with some difficult choices.
The Who produced this film, and they must be applauded (as should director Franc Roddam) for creating a classic work about teen rebellion. The music of The Who, including "The Real Me," "Love Reign O'er Me," "Bell Boy," and "I Am the Sea" has been expertly used throughout. "Quadrophenia" is a great film not just because it details British teen angst, but timeless, international teen angst.
on July 5, 2001
This film deserves to be in the pantheon of classic teen angst films (though it will really speak to adults reflecting on their years more so than it will for teens). I think it's the best film I've ever seen in that genre (and is based on probably the best album that ever covered such ground). There is real grit to the film, real emotion and pathos (but also a teriffic sense of humor). The cast is also outstanding (why Phil Daniels didn't become a big star is anybody's guess). But add to this the knockout soundtrack (from the "Quadrophenia" LP and other radio hits of the 60s), and you practically have a perfect film (I'm always hesitant to say anything is truly perfect). But I wouldn't change anything here. It is an unqualified success.
It helps to understand the milieu of the film, so read up here on the mods and rockers so that you understand the time and place. But then hang on for a long, LOUD ride! This movie just knocks me out! I wish I had seen it when I was a teenager. Better late than never!...
Don't miss it! And I will say this movie was much better the second time around (especially at a theatre). The film is so loaded with atmosphere and cultural references that you can't possibly take it all in in one sitting.
on March 20, 2006
Very few movies based on rock albums are ever any good. "Quadrophenia" is the exception to this theory. Considering the relative inexperience of cast and crew alike, the producers have pulled off the unexpected: a rock film that doesn't bow down to the egos of the rock stars; a low budget, anti-special effect film; a teen film that doesn't condescend to the teens in the film and the audience; and, ultimately, a script that is not dictated to by the songs on the album. In fact several key songs from the album aren't even in the film--not the least of which is "The Punk Versus The Godfather".
What I enjoyed about the film, also, was that it doesn't just portray the working-class teen as a malcontent who can't identify with anything. Instead, Jimmy (played brilliantly by Phil Daniels) rebels against Rockers, the "establishment", older people, etc.; however, his desire for independence only goes so far because he MUST be a Mod. And here is the real ambivalence of adolescence--the desire to be free and the need to fit in.
This edition has some fun extras. The director's commentary, although occasionally bogged down in technical stuff, is eye-opening to the era represented in the film. The high-speed London to Brighton trip is enjoyable. The Mod/Rocker Quiz was also fun--but beware of one of the endings! In sum, this is a worthwhile film to own.
on September 14, 2012
Earlier this year I bought, from Amazon UK, the Universal Pictures 2011 Blu-ray of Quadrophenia - which is a genuine full 1080p transfer from film, and with almost exactly the same extra features as for their 2009 "2 Disc Special Edition" DVD. That Blu-ray provides an amazing amount of extra detail over what the DVD produced, and the audio was noticeably (but slightly) better than the DVD version (which sounded excellent). I was surprised to find a Criterion edition announced several months later, and I ordered it (from Amazon USA) for the several different extra features, and I hoped that the video and audio might even be a touch better.
I've compared the two Blu-ray editions in an A-B test, and I believe that the Universal Blu-ray has significantly better detail. For some strange reason The Criterion edition is slightly and annoyingly zoomed, cutting away details which the Universal edition proves were clearly meant to have been seen in the widescreen frame. The Criterion video is much brighter (which is not necessarily an improvement) - and although it is slightly fuzzy, it is definitely more pristine (the Universal has a small number of barely noticeable glitches, which are not visible on the Criterion).
I haven't heard the Criterion commentary track yet (director Franc Roddam and cinematographer Brian Tufano), but I certainly enjoyed the Universal one with Franc Roddam and actor Phil Daniels.
The audio for both Blu-ray editions is excellent - both for the restored original stereo and for each edition's sometimes starkly different 5.1 surround options (with the Criterion having the superior edge). The answer is to ideally own both editions to enjoy the best of each. However in the UK and Australia the "All Regions" Universal edition is very cheap, and fans ought to be quite content with it - especially because the much more expensive Criterion edition is Region A locked.
I'm very happy that one of my top five favourite films has been restored and preserved for future appreciation in not just one, but two excellent quality high definition editions.
on January 4, 2002
I have been waiting for someone to put Quadrophenia to disc for YEARS! Finally someone (Rhino) did. The movies is still awesome. Unfortunately, the producers of the DVD fell way short. They attempted to "restore" the film. They did a lousy, cheapy job of it. Using a device called a Rank to enhance/color correct the film, it failed miserably. The Rank is good but you cannot stop there, you must DRS (Digital Restoration System)the film to remove dirt and scratches. Merely using the Rank is the poor man's way out. The disc allows you to see a split screen of the old and new. The old looks better most of the time! You can tell they didn't "restore" the film by looking at the very first shot of the movie, when Jimmy is on the cliffs. There are more scratches on the film than on my old Quadrophenia vinyl LP from 1979! Truly hideous and disappointing. They should have fixed this.
The sound is equally weak. First off, in the professional world, they don't use Protools for mastering audio, especially 5.1 audio (more shocking that they even admitted it right there on the disc). Another lame attempt to consumers into thinking they "restored" it. When you switch from original stereo to 5.1, it sounds like you gust turned the volume up a few notches, sot to mention all of the pops and cracks that are still present in the sound. Obviously they must have had poor elements, or would/couldn't attain original source audio.
The menus are also weak. Here was a chance to do something really creative, but all they did was pulled some images from the film, made them different colors and threw them onto the screen. Unfortunately, they did biography menus too that were all static and boring as well. The WORST was the "pop up video" feature. Almost always worthless trivia having nothing to do with the film! They could have hit a home run with this feature, but they didn't even make it off home plate. Rhino has also included a photo-gallery of old press photos, and continuity pictures. This also could have been cool but they are so small and poorly digitized onto the disc, that they aren't worth looking at. The producers should have cleaned them up and enhanced them or not included them at all. By far the best thing they did was to get the director to do a commentary. It was great. Worth the price of the disc just for this. But I have to ask: weren't there any other actors in the film? Perhaps some of them could have participated on the commentary track, I know that most of them are available.
The bottom line is that the film is always going to be great and the DVD version blows the old VHS away, but the people at Rhino fell asleep on this one (though I still bought two).
on October 4, 2002
It's about damn time this movie gets re-released. I had the VHS version for a bit, which was also very impressive. In the past, the audio was very analog, and it didn't help matters when trying to understand the heavy English accented dialogue. And, in the past there was also the crusty 80s film, which is nice for vintage quality. This film is very important to mods and fans of The Who, and much was riding on the success of the digital remaster. In short, the DVD passes with flying colors. You can hear the dialogue better, and it looks better than ever. The sound and vision is crisp, probably as well as the day it was filmed. And, the extras are great. The interview with Sting really helped bring great importance to the nostalgia of Quadrophenia, and the music era it is based on. I also really liked the background info on the cast and crew, and what other projects they have been involved with since. I watch it often, and still play around with the extras, which means it is worth the money. It is a well done remaster job, and a great DVD put together. The only qualm is the subtitle feature, which is filled with a lot of related trivia to the genre and the music. It would've been even better if they subtitled the dialogue word for word, so that some of the non-English viewers can understand the strong accented dialogue better. It didn't bother me, but I imagine it would bother some viewers. The story is easy to follow, but most viewers might miss a line or two. Overall, this is a grade a DVD.
on March 22, 2002
I cant believe this film is so unknown, it should be a cult classic. I had been meaning to see this film for years but never got around to it since I hated the Who's first film outing, Tommy, so much. Quadrophenia is nothing like Tommy, its not a rock opera and is only slightly based on their album, they pretty much drop the whole Quadrophenic/Schizo plot and focus on what it was like to be a Mod in swinging 60s London. The main character Jimmy (played perfectly by Phil Daniels) struggles with his identity and the likelihood of "selling out" to society. There are fantastic scenes of Mods rolling around the working class neighborhoods of London on their scooters and fighting it out with the Rockers at Brighton Beach, great stuff. The riot in Brighton is pretty intense, Sting of all people really gets in to it. They just dont make "growing up" films like this anymore, truly a must see for anyone with a vague interest in the Who, Mods, Rockers, 60s English Culture and a great disliking for the [boring ] that passes for youth culture nowadays, has to watch Quadrophenia
on October 13, 2006
A truely fantastic film from a truely awsome Who album! The film depicts 1964, when the two rival youth movements were very much present. On one side you had the traditional Rockers with their big bikes & leathers & on the other, the new kid on the block - The Mod (Modernist). 1964 was a fantastic time in England with London being a mecca for all things Mod. Quadrophenia takes us on a 60's trip through London & the south coast resort of Brighton. It tells the story of Jimmy (The Mod)& his aspirations for all thing Mod, only to conclude that things ain't all they suppose to be. A great cast is brought together under the watchful eye of Franc Roddam. All works well on this movie, the young cast, the director & lets not forget the thumping sounds of the Who with a nice blend of 60's sounds to back the picture up. It's quality at it's best. It's English & it was made at a time when the British film industry was truely suffering, (as it still does). We do pride ourselves on our films & Quadrophenia does us more than Proud - with a capitol 'P' .
on July 16, 2007
This is not really about teen angst. It truly is about the character of Jimmy & the band itself. The concept of a mod growing up in the 1960's tumult was refreshing, because this youth was not actually a malcontent. A theme that has been played out ad infinatum over the decades. Peter Townsend's theme is the song "Love Reign Oe'r Me, Daltrey's is Helpless Dancer, Moon's is Bell Boy, & Entwhistle's is I'm One."
Like "Tommy," Quadrophenia told the tale of a young man who suffers a personality split. Before long this nonconformist finds vast dissillusionment with what he thought would make him happy. Predictably, he falls into the pit of alcohol & drugs. In the end Jimmy's fate remains uncertain, a pleasant surprise for the imagination.
Musically, Quadrophenia's songs are linked by the Love Reign Oe'r Me & the fine synthesizer that balances it. I also preferred the full length songs, when compared to tommy's several short tunes. All in all, a fine collective creation by a band that truly worked well together.
on July 13, 2002
This release of Quadrophenia is very good, but doesn't quite reach the superb mark. Dramatically improved from the VHS release of many moons ago, the DVD release recaptures some of the sound and fury that I recall when I first saw the movie upon its release in 1979. Visuals are improved and colors enhanced, though discretely, but there are still a number of visual flaws in the transfer (e.g., scratches in the film are preserved, as well as occasional film artifacts). The sound reinforcement REALLY improved the experience, adding depth and presence to what was once a very tinny sounding film.
All of that being said, I believe Rhino did a wonderful job in the transfer, with the logical next step of preservation being a digital polishing (digitally removing scratches and artifacts, reregistering each frame, digital smoothing, etc.) I'm not sure what else can be done to improve the audio track, as apparently it was pulled from the optical track on the film master (no separate mag tapes?) Rhino is not Lucasfilm, and they don't have access to the $100MM post-processing digital labs of the latter, so I have no expecations of any digital magic on an indie cult classic like Quadrophenia. Hey, this is a movie about '60's Brits, and it definitely retains that '60's feel!! Isn't that what indie flicks are all about?
This is a wonderful remastered movie, with great extras, and it retains the same visceral punch as it did when first released. A superb companion to the masterpiece album by The Who that is its namesake, I highly recommend it. Four stars of five.
P.S. If you've never seen Quadrophenia before, I strongly suggest listening to and studying the entire musical album two or three times prior to viewing the movie. The emotion and fury unleashed by The Who in this album is virtually unmatched by any other album or artist at any time -- it truly is a modern musical masterpiece, and far surpasses Pete's original (and overhyped) opera, Tommy, in scope, range, and maturity. Twenty five years later, and this album is still as incredible and vital as the day it was released. Finally, go in peace, Ox, for we do miss you...