‘it felt like someone had ripped out my heart’
He’s talking about Anton Corbijn’s film ‘Control’. I knew as soon as I read the review that I would have to go and see the film. It tells the story of Joy Division’s lead singer Ian Curtis who committed suicide on the eve of their US Tour in 1980. I don’t think I’m giving away the ending by telling you, because to be honest I can’t think of anyone who would go and see the film unless they liked Joy Division. I know, I tried and I watched my friend’s faces fall one after the other as I gave them a briefer synopsis and asked them if they wanted to go, but a surprise text from a fellow fan prevented me from going on my own.
I read an interview with Corbijn the week the film was released. Corbijn was big into the
‘Control’ is based on Deborah Curtis’s (Ian’s widow) book called ‘Touching from a Distance’ and I also noticed as the credit’s rolled that she was heavily involved in the production of the film.
And then there’s me, part of the audience, but first let’s go back to my thirteen or fourteen year old self. All I have for music is this tinny tape deck and big bro has the 70 watt speakers and after years of heavy metal and punk, finally something good is pounding through the walls. In the end the reason Joy Division still speaks to so many teenagers is that Curtis’s lyrics captured that feeling of ‘otherness’ so perfectly. When I finally got my own stereo with no records to play on it, it was big bro’s Joy Division records that I sneaked out of his room to listen to (along with Dad’s top notch headphones so that I could hear Hooky’s baselines crystal clear).
So here I am half a lifetime away and I know the music and I know what happened, but somehow I expected more. The score of Control is fantastic, the photography is beautiful, but I left with this feeling that it was a film for fans. There wasn’t enough substance on the screen for an outsider to understand anything more. There were lines and moments that were brutally painful, but that was because of the experience that I had walked into the cinema with. Corbijn’s characters were like moving stills. That didn’t make the story any less harrowing or take away the feeling of shock at the end, but I just wondered. I wondered if we hadn’t been fans would it have been a different film.