Quadrophenia: The Film or The Music?

Quadrophenia, the film released in 1979 based on the rock opera of the same name by The Who, embodies The Who’s work in many ways but it did leave me a little lacking. While the movie does include the music from the original album, the movie also appears to focus on the music a lot less than I would expect from a work that is based on a rock opera, specifically a rock opera that was never intended to be staged or made into a film. During specific scenes in the movie, the film does well to place the songs in the background of situations that are spoken about in the song, such as Jimmy’s train ride down to Brighton or his realization that his role model is working as a Bell Boy. This portions of the movie gave it more body by keying directly into the music and lyrics and allowing the audience to play out those lyrics in real time. But other portions of the film appeared to forget that there was music entirely, random scenes of Jimmy’s bath time or his sister tanning appeared to come out of no where. This scenes did give the work a bit more length to it and possibly more depth, by allowing Jimmy to run into an old friend who happens to be a Rocker now, or by giving the scenery that Jimmy is not an only child (even though I don’t remember seeing his sister after that one scene). Quadrophenia makes for an interesting listen as it takes you back into the life of a mod, but not just any mod, a mod who is finding that his identity in that culture won’t ever make him unique. The film gave faces and scenes to the lyrics of the original album, but in itself the film doesn’t live up to the creativity and enlightenment that the original album has.

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