29 December 2012

Anton Corbijn's Control (2007)

Control is the first feature film by Anton Corbijn, and focuses on the life of Ian Curtis (played by Sam Riley), the lead singer and songwriter in the band Joy Division, between 1973 and 1980. As suited to the rather bleak content of the film, it is shot in black and white. We first see him – with books such as Allen Ginsberg's Howl and J. G. Ballard's Crash, and listening to David Bowie – in his parents home, although at the age of nineteen he married Deborah (Samantha Morton), who co-produced the film which is based on her book Touching from a Distance (1995). The rest of the band – 'Hooky', or Peter Hook (Joe Anderson), Bernard Sumner (James Anthony Pearson), and Stephen Morris (Harry Treadaway) – play relatively minor roles.

There were just three years between the band's first gig (before Morris joined as drummer, and when they were – briefly – known as Warsaw) and its abrupt demise on the eve of their American tour. During this time a great deal happened: Curtis – who had witnessed a girl have an epileptic fit and wrote the song 'She's Lost Control' as a reaction – had himself been diagnosed as epileptic; his relationship with Deborah deteriorated considerably; he began a relationship with Belgian Annik Honoré during a European tour; and he was suffering from depression.

On 18 May 1980 Ian Curtis hanged himself with a clothesline in the kitchen of his home in Barton Street, Macclesfield.

Corbijn's film is intense and compelling, the bleakness of it lessened by scatological humour from manager Rob Gretton (Toby Kebbell), and John Cooper Clarke reciting 'Evidently Chicken Town'.

At the end we see smoke coming from Macclesfield Crematorium, where Curtis was cremated, and where an increasing number of followers of the rock legend come to see his kerbstone. Below is a link to an amateur video clip from the 30th anniverary of Curtis's death at the cemetery, plus my other Curtis-related posts:

Ian Curtis, Macclesfield Cemetery
Mick Middles & Lindsay Reade: Torn Apart
Ian Curtis in Macclesfield, Cheshire

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