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Tommy This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   It seems I began my Who phase isometime last June. The Who's most notable accomplishment has been, of course, Pete Townsend's rock opera "Tommy." So, being on a massive Who-high over the summer, I went out and rented the 1975 film version of the production. The movie is supported by such giants as Eric Clapton, Jack Nicholson, Tina Turner, Elton John, and three members of The Who. On top of this powerful core is piled twenty-six feet of symbolism to get to the bottom of which I had to watch the movie two or three times.

The main role of Tommy is played by Who lead-singer Roger Daltrey. While Tommy is a small boy, he loses his hearing, sight and speech. Several scenes later, Tommy has grown up, and his mother begins her quest to cure her son. Her mission leads Tommy into eerie worlds of celebrity deification and occult rituals, but nothing seems to be able to cure him. Finally, after putting up with much abuse from people who are eager to take advantage of his handicap, Tommy finds his great inner talent: pinball. No, I am not giving it away. You have probably heard the words from this song: "Since I was a young boy, I played the silver ball/From Soho down to Brighton, I must have play them all. But I ain't seen nothing like him in any amusement hall/ That deaf, dumb, blind kid sure plays a mean pinball." (from "Pinball Wizard" by Pete Townsend).

Tommy obtains a league of devoted followers (Tommyheads?) who form a twisted version of Christianity: Tommy's symbol is a crucifix with a pinball on top, which is printed on T-shirts and other souvenirs. At the end of the movie, Tommy is healed, and in the midst of his celebration his followers turn against him.

Although nowhere near as difficult to understand as, say, "Brazil," "Tommy" may take a little time to get used to. By the end of the film, however, you may very well want to join in and become one of Tommy's disciples. The most effective thing about "Tommy" is its rock opera format, which means that every line is sung, backed by Townsend and The Who. (This makes the soundtrack album especially good, as it contains every line of the film.) So, if someday you find yourself on a Who-high, go out and rent "Tommy." n




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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