A chronological account of the influential British rock band of the late 70s, Joy Division. In 1976 four young men from ruined, post-industrial Manchester, England, went to see the Sex Pistols. Inspired by the chaotic sounds of that new band, they too, formed a band, taking their name from the military's nickname for a military brothel - Joy Division. They made a big impact, and were about to tour the US when the now epilelpsy-suffering lead singer, Ian Curtis, committed suicide. Now, thirty years later, the band is known as New Order, and are enjoying a larger audience and more influence than ever before with a profound legacy.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The industrial city of Manchester was such a concrete jungle in the 70s that some members of the band never saw a tree until the age of nine. From this brutal environment sprang up the now famous (infamous?) Manchester music scene of punk rock and Factory Records. The aptly named label played a huge role in cultivating the music that spoke to the disaffected, dispossessed and depressed youth of the times.
Factory Records founder Tony Wilson was at the same early and seminal Sex Pistols concert as members of what became Joy Division. This doco, following the release of Control, the dramatised biopic of Joy Division lead singer Ian Curtis, is a thorough and engaging work that unravels the story of Joy Division in chronological order. In fact the film makes a virtue of its dedication to accuracy and timelines, using stylish but meaningful little devices to make the narrative accessible yet entertaining.
Interviews with the ageing members of the band are enlightening and often humorous, and are boosted with archival footage, some of which is amateur home video - adding to the veracity of it all. (Among the interview subjects is Anton Corbijn, who directed the Ian Curtis biopic, Control.) The best rock band docos tell us more about the characters and personalities of the band than about their music or their art - and this one manages to combine enough interesting material on both aspects.
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JOY DIVISION (M)
CAST: Documentary featuring Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook and Stephen Morris (members of Joy Division), Tony Wilson, Annik Honoré, and others
PRODUCER: Tom Astor, Tom Atencio, Jacqui Edenbrow
DIRECTOR: Grant Gee
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Grant Gee
EDITOR: Jerry Chater
RUNNING TIME: 93 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Madman
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Perth: January 31; Sydney & Melbourne: February 7, 2008