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This classic rock opera is brought energetically to life by an outstanding cast including many stars of the rock music industry. Told through the remarkable music of The Who, this is the story of Tommy, who, when just a boy of six, wit¬nessed the murder of his father by his mother (Ann-Margret) and her lover (Oliver Reed). They command him, “You didn’t hear it, you didn’t see it, and you won’t say anything to any¬one…” As a result, the traumatized boy retreats into the shadows of his mind and becomes deaf, dumb and blind. Growing into manhood, Tommy (Roger Daltrey) is subjected to several bizarre cure attempts by The Acid Queen (Tina Turner), the Preacher (Eric Clapton), and the Specialist (Jack Nicholson). In spite of his handicap, Tommy defeats the Pinball Wizard (Elton John) and becomes the champ, attaining a devoted following. When he is finally cured, he is hailed by his fans as a “Messiah.”
If you've ever wanted to hear Jack Nicholson sing (or try to) or marvel at the sight of Ann-Margret drunkenly cavorting in a cascade of baked beans, Tommy is the movie you've been waiting for. As it turns out, the Who's brilliant rock opera is sublimely matched to director Ken Russell's penchant for cinematic excess, and this 1975 production finds Russell at the peak of his filmmaking audacity. It's a fever-dream of musical bombast, custom-fit to the thematic ambition of Pete Townshend's epic rock drama, revolving around the titular "deaf, dumb, and blind kid" (played by Who vocalist Roger Daltrey) who survives the childhood trauma that stole his senses to become a Pinball Wizard messiah in Townshend's grandiose attack on the hypocrisy of organized religion.
The story is remarkably coherent considering the hypnotic dream-state induced by Russell's visuals. Tommy's odyssey is rendered through wall-to-wall music, each song representing a pivotal chapter in Tommy's chronology, from the bloodstream shock of "The Acid Queen" (performed to the hilt by Tina Turner) to Nicholson's turn as a well-intentioned physician, Elton John's towering rendition of "Pinball Wizard," and Daltrey's epiphanous rendition of "I'm Free." Other performers include Eric Clapton and (most outrageously) the Who's drummer Keith Moon, and through it all Russell is almost religiously faithful to Townshend's artistic vision. Although it divided critics when first released, Tommy now looks likes a minor classic of gonzo cinema, worthy of the musical genius that fueled its creation. --Jeff Shannon
- Original 1975 Theatrical Quintaphonic Soundtrack, Digitally remastered for Dolby Digital 5.0 and 2-channel Dolby Surround
- Audio restoration essay
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The 'Rock Opera' is 100% music with no spoken dialog. But sound effects were added to the music to match the action on screen. In many ways, the filming is over the top. But considering the music culture of the era, I think it fits right in. Some people may have problems with the obvious anti- organized religion theme through much of the movie.
The quality of the Blu-ray edition is impressive! The color is vibrant and the sound crystal clear. According to the packaging, the movie's Quintaphonic sound (the only movie ever released in that audio format) was painstakingly restored. Since I don't have a surround sound set up, I wasn't able to judge it. Unfortunately, the BR disk doesn't include any 'making of' videos or other special features. I would probably have given the movie five stars if it had.
Since I love the music, it is easy for me to recommend this video.
But I won't spoil it for you. If you are thinking person you will like it.
But I didn't stop there, I also bought & listened to the 1969 album.