Jeffrey C. Stratton | Fort Lauderdale, FL United States | 06/29/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Not a documentary as much as a myopic look back at the nascent 1980s New Wave scene, Made in Sheffield touches upon some of the great bands that shaped the industrial city's musical history, but never dives deeply enough to make watching it worthwhile. Parachuting in 20 years later, the creators locate a few of the original architects still middling about, briefly sketch blurry portraits, and move on, never providing a context for the disjointed snippets.
Worse is the consistent error in highlighting randomly chosen bit players to carry much of the weight. Chris Watson is an interesting guy, but using him as the sole face of Cabaret Voltaire is all sorts of wrong. Without the input of founders/main members Stephen Mallinder and Richard Kirk -- who kept the band going for more than a decade after Watson left -- the Cabaret Voltaire story is condensed into nothingness.
Many important contributors to the scene are overlooked. Much time is spent on unknowns like Vice Versa (pure crap) and Artery (an excellent, obscure revelation) while ignoring the work of producer Martin Rushent and incredibly under-rated acts like Hula. The only lead singers featured are Human League's Phil Oakley and Pulp's Jarvis Cocker. Not even mentioned are important Sheffield acts like British Electronic Foundation. Where's Martin Fry (ABC) or Glenn Gregory (Heaven 17)?
This scattershot approach is underscored by the awful interview segments, in which mics are placed so far from subjects it's impossible to hear what's being said much of the time (and no captions are provided). Many interviews are chopped off in mid-sentence, and this lack of attention to detail derails the effort.
If you want to know how Human League came to add two dancer/singers to its line-up, Made in Sheffield is quite informative. As a passing glance into electronic pop music, it's adequate, but nowhere does a viewer get a sense of why these acts are so important today, how they related to each other (other than swapping members), and why we should care. If you're a fan of any of these bands, you'll be shocked at the many omissions and the amateurishness of the film, and if you don't know anything about the Sheffield scene at all, suffice to say, you'll find little enlightenment here."
Focusing on what IS here...
CabaretVoltairefan | Seattle WA | 03/06/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I have just watched "Made in Sheffield" twice and have a much different reaction than the negative one. I would only agree on a point that this DVD could not be considered "the definitive story" (see edit. reviews). In every other respect I have to disagree that this DVD is a missed opportunity. This DVD is an excellent "introduction" to the subject, an important distinction - even if it does not tell the "whole" story, what it does tell is fascinating and worthwhile to watch.
And personally, I can wait until the filmmakers might someday have the very unusual and difficult-to-orchestrate opportunity to track down and interview ALL 3 members of Cabaret Voltaire, or any of the other people in all the bands covered here who were not interviewed. What they DID include in here is completely laudable. For example, I have found it MUCH easier in the past to find interviews of Richard Kirk and Stephen Mallinder - I've heard their side of the story already; it was Chris Watson that I had never heard from (on video), so it was a great thing for me to see him in here. The collection of interviews, edited into the flow of the images and song clips, are not worthless by any means for someone interested in hearing about the Sheffield scene of that time. They get pretty close-up and personal... there is a "casual" nature that made me feel like the interviews were conducted in my living room - they have a "welcoming" feel about them and are enjoyable whether they are telling the full story or not.
More full interviews of band members are included as extras (including Martyn Ware, Ian Craig Marsh, Stephen Singleton, Phil Oakey and more), unusual photos of many of the bands, and great live clips - and more to the point of what a DVD such as this is for in the first place - BECAUSE OF this DVD, I'm now going to try and find out more about the bands "I'm So Hollow" and "Pulp." Cool!"
A Music Video for Music Videos
Wolfsegg | 03/08/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This could have been a lot better. All documentaries require some kind of structured narrative to make them more than rambling heaps of related fact. Here, the 'rising action' and background consume about 80% of the documentary; the denouement and 'fall' are squeezed into the rest. There is no sense of drama here. Even the nostalgia and regret expressed in many of the interviews seems flat and two-dimensional. You get a good amount of background on Sheffield and the nascent music scene, and then, BOOM, everybody's big, and then, POP, the bubble bursts, and everyone goes into rehab. The end product is unaffecting. But one could argue that this reflects the very nature of the rock-n-roll experience: exploitation, abuse, hype, and defeat. The rise is always propped up by illusions which ultimately prove unsustainable. If you aren't sick of 'behind the music' treatments of the recording industry, and you have an interest in this particular sound (Sheffield new-wave, 1976-1982), you might give this film a go. Otherwise, wait for something more comprehensive, or read a monograph on the subject, or stop kidding yourself and throw out all your albums and devote yourself to classical music."