This post is in conjunction with the 31 Days Of Oscar Blogathon, hosted by the fabulous Kellee at Outspoken & Freckled, Paula at Paula's Cinema Club, and Aurora at Once Upon A Screen!
|Original poster art for the initial release of Control (2007).|
I know what you're thinking: what is this post doing on a classic movie blog? And you'd be absolutely right in thinking that this film - no matter how stellar it is - doesn't belong here. It's like the nerdy kid you don't want sitting with you at lunch in the high school cafeteria. Give me a chance to explain: in thirty or forty years' time, this film will definitely be considered a classic. Until then, people like me will wax poetic about it and encourage as many of you as possible to get out and see it. It's magical, it's gritty, it's raw, it's debilitating, and it's downright depressing. It's sad, it's hopeful, it's poignant, and it's an absolute nightmare. Believe me when I say it's everything you'd want in a movie.
Control is the story of Joy Division, a post-punk band from Greater Manchester, England that shot to stardom in the late 1970s. Moreover, it's the story of the band's tortured lead singer Ian Curtis (played by the truly exceptional Sam Riley in his first film role). Plagued by seizures and depression, Curtis stumbles through life in a haze of prescription medication and the remnants of bad decisions. He's the sort of person you can't help rooting for in between bouts of telling him off and berating him (loudly) for his poor judgement. Despite all his faults, though, Curtis was a creative genius who strove to achieve a level of stardom that rarely revealed itself to kids of his age and social background.
The movie was filmed in black and white and though it may take some getting used to at first, it eventually becomes apparent that colour film would have taken something away from the story; Control wouldn't have had that same gritty realism in it if a full colour spectrum had been present. This film needs to be dark and shadowy. The wonderful thing about Control is that, at times, it resembles those film noirs that we all love and respect so much. The dreary, cold streets of industrial Manchester are magnified ten-fold by Martin Ruhe's vivid cinematography and the permeating feeling of doom and gloom are ever-present.
Anton Corbijn, Control's director, had only previously directed short films and music videos for the likes of U2, Depeche Mode, and Nirvana before. I remember researching the film on IMDB right after I saw it for the first time, wanting to learn more about the cast, crew, and music credits; I was shocked to find out that Control was Corbijn's first feature-length film! I mean, the level of talent and creativity that this man had was incredible! Come to think of it, Control does resemble a music video at times: quick cuts, experimental camera angles, and moody, somewhat blurry close-ups.
The reason why I chose to write about this film for the "Oscar Snubs" portion of the blogathon was because it failed to garner any Oscar praise despite the fact that Control earned twenty-seven - TWENTY SEVEN! - other award wins within the film industry: it earned a BAFTA, a British Independent Film award, three Cannes Film Festival awards, a Chicago International Film Festival award, and an Empire award (for a full list of Control's nominations and wins, click here). To prove my point even further, ShortList.com just named Control the #1 music biopic, placing it above films like Walk The Line (2005) and Ray (2004), both Academy Award winners.
I know this is going to come off sounding incredibly cliche, but Control truly changed the way I look at modern film and music. I've learned to appreciate independent features more, not to mention films of the more experimental variety. And, quite frankly, when it comes to music, I've never been so open-minded before in my life! Before Control I only listened to rock, 80s, and classical. After Control I started listening to rap, electronica, industrial, pop, and house. My point is, since watching this film, my outlook has changed considerably and I am able to appreciate the hard work, guts, and glory that goes into composing and creating something so seemingly simple as A SONG. Plus, if that hasn't convinced you to give this film a try, it reignited my love for all things David Bowie (you'll find out what I mean once you watch the first half-hour of the movie).
Control should have won many Academy Awards. Even if it had garnered a few nominations, I would have been happy. I guess this is my chance now, to make the world aware of how incredibly great this movie is. Not that the whole entire planet Earth is going to see this (wishful thinking on my part), but you know what I mean! If you're in the mood for something tragic yet uplifting, bleak yet hopeful, upsetting yet inspirational you MUST give Control a try. Or, at least watch the trailer below.