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New Line Platinum Series
Rated: R (Language, Adult Content, Overt Sexual Innuendo)
Running Time: 91 minutes
Starring: John Cameron Mitchell, Michael Pitt, AndreaMartin, Miriam Shor, Stephen Trask
Written and Directed by: John Cameron Mitchell
Retail Price: $24.99
Features: Audio Commentary with John Cameron Mitchell, Deleted Scenes with optional Mitchell Commentary,Original Feature-Length Documentary Whether You Like It Or Not: The Story of Hedwig, Song-by-Song Access to the Film, Cast and Crew Filmographies, Theatrical Trailer
Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English DTS 5.1, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Scene Selections (26 Scenes)
Released: December 11th, 2001
Above all else, Hedwig and the Angry Inch is about love. Love between members of opposite genders, members of the same gender, parents and children; humans. It accurately portrays the celebratorynature of rock and roll and the bonds music in general can create. Almost Famous be damned (right, Zach B?).
"Hedwig" is the product of John Cameron Mitchell's brilliant writing, directing, and acting, and Stephen Trask's engaging rock score. The film was adapted from an off-Broadway musical the two worked at for two long years. It centers around the story of Hedwig, an East German transsexual punk. Told in flashback/monologue form,the "diva's" story provides many laughs and heartfelt moments. Mitchell's delivery serves to make both thisaspect of the film and his performance all the more stirring.
Raised in communist East Berlin, young Hansel (Hedwig: maleform) struggles endlessly to find an identity. He develops a love of American/English rock and roll from a very early age. The stylings of Lou Reed, IggyPop, and David Bowie provide escape and adventure. When given the opportunity to marry a "Sugar Daddy" American GI, the young man quickly agrees to the necessary sex-change operation. It's botched.
Abandoned, confused and unquestionably alone in Junction City, Kansas, the newly christened "Hedwig" is forced to take all sorts of jobs, including babysitting and "the type we call blow". Through his/her meanderings, Hedwig encounters rebellious, quasi-religious, wannabe musician Tommy Specter. Tommy (complete with "Gnosis" moniker) istrained in true rock fashion, and the two collaborate on countless, imaginativetunes such as "Tear Me Down" and "The Origin of Love". More importantly, an innocent love blooms. This dream-like connection is shattered as quickly as it develops, however, when Tommy discovers Hedwig's sexual secret&emdash;a "Barbie-doll crotch". The marketable young man claims all rights to their collaborations, andbecomes a larger-than-life icon. Hedwigis forced to follow and somewhat stalk Tommy's caravan-style tour, accompaniedonly by her bandmates and fueled solely by nightly shows at the "Bilgewater" restaurant chain.
Ultimately, the story reveals itself as one of Hedwig's desire to grasp a perpetually unrequited love and, subsequently, the startling progression of this seemingly superficial character.
The anamorphic widescreen transfer allows "Hedwig" to be seen as it was imagined. The film is an opus, anddeserves its Broadway-style presentation of grandeur. Being an ode to over-the-top glam/punk rock, the film features a wide array of innovative shots and techniques. John Cameron Mitchell shows his vast understanding of the main character through a masterful depiction of the world as seen by Hedwig. The audience is constantly showered with bright, vibrant colors and artsy set designs thatcreate an East Berlin meets New York acid trip aesthetic. Scenes of quiet introspection are often followed and/or preceded by those of The Angry Inch in concert. Transitions seem effortless, especiallyduring the "Origin of Love" performance in which Mitchell utilizes bothavant-garde animation and simple shots of the band to truly capture the song'sessence. A flow is evident throughout.
5.1 Dolby Digital and DTS Surround Sound compliment "Hedwig"'s content beautifully. Asstated early, it is more than a film. The quasi-rock opera was initially imagined as an off-Broadway musical,and must be watched with an understanding of such. Dialogue is short, sweet, and unmistakably witty, but the musicalperformances illustrate the audio artistry of Mitchell's vision. Ballads such as "Origin of Love" and"Midnight Radio" exude quiet cool. Racuous numbers like "Angry Inch" and "Tear Me Down" blow viewers away,and establish the underlying emotions of pain and unhappiness that exist at thebase of Hedwig's character. It is,however, "Wig In a Box" that achieves the most successful marriage of video,audio, and pure feeling. Starting offslowly and finishing with a balls-to-the-wall RAWKfest, the lengthy sequenceembodies everything the film's creators strived for and more.
The quality of this disc's supplemental features apologizes for its lack of quantity. Whether You Like It Or Not is the clear highlight, clocking in at over two hours. It is a thoroughly engrossinglook at not only the making of the film, but the creation of "Hedwig"his/herself. John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask detail their initial encounter, early stories of drag queen karaoke, the plight to find funding and a theater, and countless other NewYork/off-Broadway/Hedwig-inspired facts. The documentary is extremely informative to those with Greenwich Village-ties, as it provides a look at the Meat Packing District before it became the "upscale" (read: elitist) MePa and details Mitchell's shoestring renovation of the ultra-hot Jane Street Theater.
Other features, including the Theatrical Trailer, Filmographies, Deleted Scenes with optional Commentary, Song-by-Song Access and the Filmmaker Commentary, are quite enjoyable. The commentary in particular is informative, as Mitchell provides insight on the"Hedwig process". Quirks abound, and afun time is definitely had while listening to the man speak.
Pick up this DVD. NOW. There will be no director's cut, bootleg, or alternate package. Mitchell's currently working on his "loving, hardcore sex-filled project" and Stephen Trask's writing for Meatloaf. Cherish Hedwig. The film itself is worth $24.99 sans documentary and extras. East German punk rockers don't come around everydayÉ.