Film version of the successful rock opera about a boy who witnesses the murder of his father by his mother and her lover. He becomes deaf, dumb and blind, and as he grows, he is taken to various experts for cures. — Genre: ... more »Musicals
"As the five-star rating would indicate, I've loved TOMMY sincethe day it opened (and yes, I was there for its premiere). I've alsopurchased the movie in just about every incarnation that have been released: videotape, laserdisc, and now DVD.What's most exciting about the DVD version -- and something which doesn't seem to have been mentioned in other Amazon reviews -- is that the soundtrack to the film has been completely restored. "Quintaphonic sound" may sound a little silly and may not even mean much in this age of digital sound, but TOMMY was the movie that saw the rebirth of multi-channel audio (most films of the late 60s and early 70s were either mono or 2-channel stereo). The enhanced 5-channel discrete sound was a perfect extension of Ken Russell's audacious visuals. The tag line to the movie was "Your senses will never be the same," and it perfectly described both the visual AND aural assault on audience members.Well, this DVD is the first (and only) format to feature the complete "Quintaphonic" soundtrack. If you have a Dolby Digital decoder, you're going to hear the movie in a way that wasn't even possible back in 1975! All of the vocals are locked dead center while the score itself blasts out of the remaining four speakers. And there's absolutely no distortion, even when you jack the volume up (which you should, since it was intended to be heard that way). It's a wonderful - and quite unexpected - thrill to hear the movie this way. Previous editions had absolutely terrible audio tracks that were poorly mixed down from the originals. The result -- even on the laserdisc -- was a muddy mess. Not so with this DVD edition, which includes a written essay insert explaining the soundtrack's restoration.The picture quality is also outstanding. One key moment: during the blackout section of "Fiddle About" the screen is absolutely dark -- not a speck can be seen, proof that this film was carefully transferred from a pristine source print!This is an incredible film presented on an incredible DVD. If your home system isn't yet able to decode the Dolby Digital soundtrack, do yourself a favor and get a decoder at the same time you buy this disc. You won't be sorry.I'd warn the neighbors first, though!"
Plenty weird yet compelling - and the music's great
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 05/26/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Having heard about Tommy for years, I felt it was time to actually watch the movie. I had never acquired much of a sense for what the movie is about, probably because I don't think it is really possible to actually explain the film to anyone else. This is some pretty weird stuff. As the thing progressed, I had a hard time figuring out if I liked what I was seeing, whether it made any sense, etc. In the end, I must say I did enjoy the film, thanks largely to Daltrey, the music, and Ann-Margaret. What does it all mean? That's a toughie, as I'm sure the story means different things to different people. I had the sense that Tommy is supposed to be some kind of spiritual experience, and in some ways it is - maybe.
Here's my ridiculously oversimplified summary of the basic story. As a kid, Tommy is messed up pretty good, having witnessed something pretty dramatic; as a result, he becomes deaf, blind, and mute - for psychological rather than physical reasons. His mother (Ann-Margaret) and step-father try all kinds of weird cures as Tommy enters what should be his adulthood, including a visit to the holy rollers at a church that worships Marilyn Monroe and a special session with "The Acid Queen" (Tina Turner). Nothing seems to get through to him - until, of course, he happens to come across a pinball machine. Truly, that deaf, dumb, and blind kid sure plays a mean pinball, knocking the current pinball wizard (Elton John) off his pedestal. Suddenly, Tommy's family is rolling in the money, yet Tommy remains uncommunicative. When he does eventually find "awareness," he is transformed into a messiah figure, and crowds flock to him to hear his wisdom.
The film gets off to a pretty slow start, as we follow Tommy's childhood. Then Tina Turner enters the picture as The Acid Queen, and she forevermore gets the joint jumping with her electric performance. Other memorable performers include Eric Clapton, Elton John, and Jack Nicholson (who does in fact sing here). Ann-Margaret tops all of them with her performance, though, earning an Academy Award nomination for her work. It's a demanding role; alongside the acting and singing, she also has to roll around in a chocolatey, gooey mess. She may have been a little older in 1975, but Ann-Margaret definitely still had it.
The boys from the band pop in from time to time, but the story is increasingly focused on Tommy, his awakening, and his cult following. Some really obvious representations of Christianity are incorporated into the film, while, at the same time, greed and materialism are also spotlighted as false gods. Ultimately, though - thanks to a problematic ending -it is hard for me to discern the message that the filmmakers were actually trying to communicate here. I've heard that The Who's original album makes some of the more esoteric aspects of the Tommy story a little clearer.
Obviously, some individuals will not like this film at all; it's sort of an acid trip on film, vague and unsettling with its symbolism and discernible criticisms of organized religion. Others may find enlightenment of one sort or another. Most people, including me, will probably just look at this as a weird but oddly entertaining musical that leaves you scratching your head a little bit after you watch it. Of course, even if the story loses you completely, you still have plenty of great music from The Who to sit back and enjoy."
The Amazing Journey
John Adams | Fort Lauderdale, Florida United States | 04/15/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Beautifully filmed, unique conception, brilliant use of symbolism, and over the top performances. The only true downside to this is the certain slumps in the story that I feel the Broadway show improved on. Primarily, the fact that the ending in the movie differs from the play same as the "You didn't Hear it, You didn't see it scene." But I refuse to make comparisons. So. What I'll say is that Ann-Margret's voice fit this musical like a glove. Oliver Reed was purely sinister and just as scary as he was in "Oliver!" Tina Turner's "Acid Queen" Is truly a milestone and Elton John was hilarious as Pinball Wizard. Daltrey had an interesting touch with the Title role. And the orchestrations were great. I just bought this one a few days ago and I've watched it 6 times already. This is definitely a good buy. Don't believe me? Then watch strictly for the sake of watching AND listening to Jack Nicholson try to sing (It's just as funny as Marlon Brando flat singing voice in Guys and Dolls.) But if you're a devoted "Who" fan, or a musical lover I recommend this movie."
Symbolism and Ingenious Music Make This An Enduring Hit
david lincoln brooks | boerne, tx United States | 01/06/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There are some artworks throughout the course of history that can scarcely be evaluated as either good or bad, because they are so unique... they are so THEMSELVES that they can't be compared to anything else. Such is TOMMY. Of all the incarnations of the TOMMY story (I can think of four now: the original concept album, a preliminary stage adaptation which featured Ringo Starr among others, this Ken Russell film, and the latest stage musical) this movie is by far my favorite. Why? The calibre of the session musicians playing on it is best of all-- sorry kids, but the original WHO version could sometimes sound a little effeminate, even though I know they wrote the bloody piece.
(Just listen to the late Nicky Hopkins' killer analog synth work throughout this movie soundtrack!!) And like everyone else, I was, and remain still, blown away by Ann-Margret's stunning performance as Tommy's mother; to align herself with such a daring, countercultural piece was a risky move for an actress d'un certain âge. Had TOMMY failed, it might have proved a damaging blow to her career. But she went for it and pulled it off. (Many kids of the 70's-- like me-- had never seen her in her earlier incarnation as Elvis's wholesome beach party sex kitten, so we didn't have any problem with her in this role, though.) Besides whatever message TOMMY has to impart about religion or fame, etc., I felt it provided an interesting glimpse into Postwar England... with its Butlin's Holiday Camps, scarlet-red memorial poppies, leopard-skin pillbox hats, etc.
Oh, and a note to the person who felt that Capt. Walker's descent into flames looked cheezy: director Russell was obviously creating a mise-en-scène designed to allude to one of Roy Liechtenstein's pop-art "BLAM!" paintings. (He also alludes repeatedly to Warhol's Marilyn during the "Eyesight To The Blind" sequence. Rather high-minded touches, I thought.)
For me, it's the music that has endured most from this film... it moves me as much at age 38 as it did when I was 12 years old in 1975!"
Tommy, The Movie: More than meets the eye
david lincoln brooks | 08/06/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"How you relate to this movie will vary, more than most movies, on your own context. If you are one who makes a habbit of not thinking too deeply, you will find this movie wierd but visually and musically stimulating, and you won't derive much meaning. I saw it's original release as I was entering adolescence and I instantly related to young Tommy, feeling isolated and surrounded by ignorance and unkindness that would take quite a few more years to comprehend and move beyond. I also found the symbolism of the white sphere (the ever illusive "truth" that by the end of your teens becomes so important to find) brilliant and powerful, as was the linking of this symbol to Tommy's father at the beginning, at the junk yard, and at the end (which returns to the beginning in a way that reassures a teen or anyone else, that there is an ultimate light and truth worth following - I challenge you to find many movies in the past decade that haven't tried to lead you to the exact opposite conclusion). Listening to You is an anthem of hope, idealism, romantacism and individualism, which leaves wide open the choice of what you "listen to". The Movie is brilliant with minor flaws (at least to my forgivingly biased eyes); my next favorite song is Amazing Journey because it sums up the movie's premise and underlying theme powerfully with meaning. Townshend wrote a brilliant score and Russell created a thoroughly entertaining, inspiring and often humorous movie musical that in many ways epitomizes what it means to be that young idealist trying to survive the "Amazing Journey". This DVD version is restored to its original ground breaking 5 channel perfection and then some. Too bad noone could have included a "making of" feature noting the array of stars involved and interesting site location in the English southern coastal town of Portsmouth, but that is a very small criticism."