Quadrophenia: the Movie vs. the Record

I had very high hopes for the Quadrophenia movie. I thought that all of the ambiguous, unclear moments in the album would somehow become magically clear when represented in front of me. The movie, however, kept many of those ambiguous moments and messages unclear, refusing to give too much away to the audience. Upon reflection, i think that this was a smart choice. Although the storyline was different in some ways, and the order of the songs switched up, i think the movie caught the spirit of the album in the way it was intended. While i was primed to expect the songs in a certain order, the movie’s order of songs almost made more sense, especially for the story they were trying to tell. Jimmy’s mental illness was the only portion of the story i felt was left lacking in the movie. Aspects of mental illness, however, are difficult to depict in a movie, without a lot of spoken internal dialogue, which i think would have taken away from the rest of the story. So in that respect, i think they did the best they could to showcase his schizophrenia. Lastly, unlike some of my classmates, i really agreed with the ending of the film. I thought the ambiguous shot of the destroyed scooter without Jimmy was the perfect way in which to let the viewer decide for themselves what Jimmy did to solve his identity crisis. Any type of absolute ending would have taken away from the nature of the story and the album.

The biggest question i had regarding the movie was how much creative influence the band had over it. Upon doing further research, i couldn’t find much regarding their thoughts or influence on it. I found that the movie almost did not happen, due to drummer Keith Moon’s death in 1979. So that leads me to believe that the band did have some hand in making it or that would have had no effect on it. It would be interesting to know if the band agreed with the artistic changes made to the film. After all, it is their story so it would be helpful to know if they agreed with the way it was told.


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