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  • by David C. Terr

    #5 <<    #6    >> #7

    tommy movie posterTitle: Tommy

    Director: Ken Russell

    Starring: Roger Daltrey, Oliver Reed, Ann-Margret, Robert Powell, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Tina Turner, Jack Nicholson, Pete Townsend

    Release Date: Mar. 19, 1975

    Running Time: 111 min

    Genres: Drama, Fantasy, Musical

     

    Commentary
    Tommy is a "rock opera" concept music album by The Who from 1969 which became a film in 1975.

    I saw the film when it came out at age 13, along with my mother, uncle, and sister. I loved it, though the rest of my family hated it. My mother even covered my sister and my eyes through three scenes, Uncle Ernie, the Hells Angels' gang warfare, and Tommy's cult's rebellion at the end of the movie.

    In any case, I have watched it about ten times, mostly on videotape. The story has a lot of meaning to me and I think I have been able to interpret much of it over the years.

    Plot Summary
    Tommy is about a boy named Tommy who becomes severely traumatized by his parents at age five, causing him to become blind, deaf and dumb. He grows up with this sickness for many years, but it turns out to be psychological and he can respond to a few selective sensations such as seeing his image in the mirror and playing pinball. Once he discovers pinball he becomes the world champion, the "pinball wizard". But he remains blind, deaf and dumb until his mother smashes the mirror he gazes into at home. Then he is cured, whence he becomes a messianic figure and starts a weird cult centered on pinball. He and his family build a large holiday camp for him to draw recruiters. He expects them to wear earplugs, eyeshades, and a cork, making them effectively blind, deaf and dumb, as well as to play pinball. They try this for awhile, but quickly revolt violently, destroying Tommy's holiday camp and family home, killing his parents, and abandoning him. In the end, after wandering around for awhile, Tommy finally sees the light, singing and greeting the setting sun.

    Music
    The music featured in Tommy is wonderful, which is to a large extent why it is my favorite musical and sixth favorite movie of all time. As I mentioned earlier, Tommy began as a concept album by The Who in 1969. I own this album and love the music. The movie features most of the same songs as the album, but several performed by different artists. Here are some of my favorite songs from the movie:

    • "Acid Queen" by Tina Turner
    • "Sparks" by The Who
    • "Pinball Wizard" by Elton John
    • "I'm Free" by Roger Daltrey
    • "Sensation" by Pete Townsend and Roger Daltrey
    • "Listening to You/See Me, Feel Me" by The Who

    The following songs appear in the film but not on the original album:

    • "Prologue 1945" by The Who
    • "Bernie's Holiday Camp" by Oliver Reed and Ann-Margret
    • "Champagne" by Ann-Margret
    • "Mother and Son" by Roger Daltrey and Ann-Margret
    • "T.V. Studio" by Ann-Margret and Oliver Reed

    Movie Clips

    Warning: Many of these clips are not appropriate for children.

    Here's the original trailer.

     

    Here's a clip of "Bernie's Holiday Camp" and "1951 (What About the Boy?)".

     

    Here's a clip of "Christmas", Tommy's first Christmas party, which he cannot enjoy due to his condition.

     

    Here's a clip of "Eyesight to the Blind" by Eric Clapton.

     

    Here's Tina Turner's performance of "Acid Queen" in which she gets Tommy high on drugs.

     

    Here's a clip of Tommy's sadistic Cousin Kevin.

     

    Here's a clip of Tommy with his perverted Uncle Ernie.

     

    Here's a clip of Tommy's discovery of pinball, to the tune of "Sparks".

     

    Here's the classic performance of "Pinball Wizard", featuring Elton John as the pinball champion.

    Here's a clip of Ann Margret getting drunk to the tune of "Champagne".

    Here's a clip of Tommy singing "I'm Free" after he regains his senses.

    Here's a clip of Pete Townsend welcoming converts to "Tommy's Holiday Camp".

     


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