Stop Making Sense
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The staging--and Demme's filming of it--builds toward an orgasmic release of music, rising from the bare-stage simplicity of Byrne, accompanied only by a boom box on "Psycho Killer," to the ecstatic crescendo of "Burning Down the House," by which time the Heads and additional personnel have all arrived on stage for a performance that seems channeled from heaven for the purpose of universal uplift. (God bless Demme for avoiding shots of the luckiest audience in '80s pop history; its presence is acknowledged, but not at the viewer's expense.) With the deliriously eccentric Byrne as ringleader (pausing mid-concert to emerge in his now-legendary oversized suit), this circus of musical pleasure defies the futility of reductive description; it begs to be experienced, felt in the heart, head, and bones, and held there the way we hold on to cherished memories. On those three nights in December 1983, Talking Heads gave love, life, and joy in generous amounts that years cannot erode, and Demme captured this act of creative goodwill on film with minimalist artistic perfection. Stop Making Sense is an invitation to pleasure that will never wear out its welcome. --Jeff Shannon
- The 15th Anniversary re-release of the live concert film has been digitally re-mixed and re-mastered, featuring three audio mixes in 5.1 Dolby Digital feature film soundtrack, 5.1 studio mix and linear PCM stereo
- Bonus Tracks: "Cities," "I Zimbra"/"Big Business"
- Storyboard-to-Film Comparison
- Original Promotional Trailer & other clips
- David Byrne Self-Interview
Top Customer Reviews
After seeing it, not really knowing much about the quirky, catchy pop music of David Byrne and his brood, the band and the film won me over. The film starts, like the concert, with a bare stage. David Byrne walks out, alone, with his guitar and a radio. Within moments of beginning "Psycho Killer," Byrne's tripping all over the stage, falling all over himself, stumbling into the edges of the film frame. With that, he begins to show some individual, I-am-not-a-rock-star personality. When the staging does come, when the band joins in the fun, that personality expands.
And when it comes time for the giant suit, this film's more than just a concert. It's become a story. The story of the band, the story in the lyrics and a commentary on how abstract visual art and obscure, obtuse music can interact.
Demme never shows the audience through the film, though you can hear them, for the film is just about the band, the stage. It's not about the reaction they get.
It's fascinating, and you'll find yourself a fan of Byrne's music, as a result.
First, to be clear, I love the Talking Heads of this era (and earlier) and this concert. As many have said before, Stop Making Sense is one of the best concert performances ever captured on film. Poorly captured, unfortunately.
I've owned the standard DVD for years, and have viewed it on my Oppo 970 upscaling player at least 50 times. I know (and love) the content very well, warts and all. I eagerly awaited the release on blu-ray to improve the blurry, soft, artifact-laden DVD.
Sadly, on my 106" screen (fed by a Pioneer BPD-51FD blu-ray player though an Epson 1080UB), the video on blu-ray is so similar (poor) to the DVD that I consider it a wasted purchase. What makes it even WORSE than the DVD, is that all the grain, scratches, and film defects are greatly enhanced by the sharpness of blu-ray. When a scratch comes along, it's presented in high definition, making it leap out even more than it does on DVD. The sharp detail of the defects screams out how bad the source really is. Monty Python's Life of Brian was similarly horrific on DVD, but the restoration processing used for the blu-ray transformed it astonishingly to near perfect. I had hoped for SOME similar improvements on Stop Making Sense, but this blu-ray is a dud in my opinion. I see only moments of improved detail, but so little as to be of no consequence. Some reviewers feel that this is part of the films' charm and artistic intent. I respectfully disagree - strongly. The bad video quality just looks like sloppy, inept film making. The concept, direction and performances are wonderful, but the images look like a 4th generation VHS tape.Read more ›
The sound quality of the DVD edition is excellent (especially the bass), as is the picture quality (colors are crisp and the contrast is excellent) - plus it's nice to finally have an edition of the video presented in widescreen.
There's some interesting stuff among the extras, especially the storyboards (which can be viewed either alone, with notes, or in split screen with stills from the completed film). The David Byrne 'self-interview' is artful in its awkwardness, with one David Byrne in a number of different costumes interviewing a David Byrne wearing the big suit. There's a funky montage that works slightly better than the theatrical trailer that is also included; otherwise, they're almost interchangeable.
My only complaint with this re-mastered edition is that the three songs (Cities, Big Business, and I Zimbra) that were included in the original video release have been relegated to bonus tracks, rather than integrated into the film. Not only that, but they are presented in fullscreen/pan & scan format rather than in the widescreen format of the film, and in little more than a straight transfer. The improvements in image and sound quality of the film proper are sadly lacking here. The colors and contrast are dull in comparison, as is the quality of the soundtrack.
Well worth repeated viewings. Fix up them bonus tracks, and you've got a 5-star presentation...
In retrospect, however, I think the demise of this band leaves a void in the world of popular music that may never be filled. Talking Heads created some of the smartest, funkiest sounds in the first half of the 1980s, and this film shows them in their finest form. Much of the credit goes to director Jonathan Demme for focusing our attention on the band and David Byrne's wide-eyed stage presence, while tipping his hat to the audience only at the end of the concert. Occasionally Demme comes up with a shot that is so utterly sublime in its balance and power that the viewer can only whisper, "Wow." Credit also goes to Byrne for the minimalistic set design and the particularly clever touch of assembling the set (and the band, for that matter) during the first four songs. And extra-special credit must be given to some of the COOLEST backup musicians (Steve Scales, Edna Holt, Bernie Worrell, Lynn Mabry, & Alex Weir) I've ever seen onstage. "Stop Making Sense" is unarguably the best concert movie ever made.
My partner Greg & I first owned this film on VHS, but the DVD is so much, MUCH better! The blacks are BLACK, the reds are SMOOTH, and the transfer is just as crisp as you please.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you are/were a fan of Talking Heads, this is a must. I have several friends who had never heard of them (srsly, wha?!!! Read morePublished 16 days ago by Linda Boynton
One of the best concert movies ever, along with "Trinity Revisited" and "The Last Waltz"Published 1 month ago by madalykat
So much better in BluRay. Had a copy of this from back in day in VHS. Finally got a new copy, glad I did, even better than I remembered. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Kenneth K.
Amazing, i have the VHS and DVD and Blu-ray Disc is fantastic!!Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
I wouldn't waste my money twice on this. If you watch Byrne sing one song then you have watched the entire video. It is boring - no staging. No imagination.Published 3 months ago by R. D. Mackenzie
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