Control

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It is rare to come across a film that delves well into the mind of the suffering artist, at least not as deeply or as boldly as Control, a 2007 biopic about the late Ian Curtis (1956-1980), lead singer of the Post Punk band Joy Division.
The film chronicles the life of Curtis (Sam Riley) from his time as a young teenager looking to make a name for himself in the midst of the 1970s Punk scene up until his suicide on the eve of Joy Division’s first U.S. tour. The film also deals with Curtis’s rocky marriage with his wife, Deborah Curtis (Samantha Morton), his extramarital affair with Annik Honoré (Alexandria Maria Lara), and his erratic epileptic seizures, all of which were thought to have put pressure upon Curtis to commit suicide.

One unique aspect of the movie is the use of black-and-white film. Director Anton Corbijn had the film shot this way because most pictures of Joy Division, active in the 70’s, were taken in black-and-white. It can be noted that Corbijn shot several pictures of Joy Division for New Musical Express, directed their music video for the song “Atmosphere” for its 1988 re-release, and has been a devout Joy Division fan since the band’s early days. Had the film been done in color, it would have taken away from its visual power that serves to draw viewers into the depressing, bleak atmosphere of the movie’s story and setting.

The fact the music performed in the film is live music also serves to give it power. All the actors who play the members of Joy Division had to learn how to play the songs that were presented within the film. This gives a sense of realism to the movie that keeps viewers engaged while watching, for they are given the feeling they are experiencing one of Joy Division’s concerts. This also provides excitement for those who get bogged down by the depressing mood of the movie.

All these elements put together make for one emotional, tearful drama chronicling the impending fame that made Ian Curtis lose “control” of his life and tore him apart. From beginning to heart-breaking end, you will laugh at JD manager Rob Gretton’s (Tony Kebbell) snide, sarcastic remarks, and feel the torture of Ian’s struggles throughout the movie. All the actors did a wonderful job of capturing the personalities of their characters. Sometimes you’ll forget you are watching actors and just think they are the actual people they are pretending to be.
If you’re a Joy Division fan seeking a deeper understanding of Ian Curtis’s story, or just a movie buff looking for a powerful, inspirational movie, you should pick up Control, out on DVD June 3rd.





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