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Cult classic, but disappointing for fans of the album
on 5 July 2004
As a fan of The Who, I decided that owning this movie was necessary, but after watching it again for the first time in years, I'm not so sure anymore.
As you might expect from Ken Russell, the movie itself is totally barmy, although it does stick well to the range of (disturbing) themes touched upon in the album. But despite looking and sounding better than ever on this new edition DVD, nothing can stop this film from looking (and sounding) terribly dated.
As a huge fan of the album, I can't help but to feel disappointed by the soundtrack of the film. Despite some great performances by Elton John ('Pinball Wizard') and Tina Turner ('Acid Queen'), and appearances by The Who and Eric Clapton, most of the songs are sung by Oliver Reed and Ann-Margret in character, and all the songs are 1975 updates of the originals, loaded with synthesizers, and bereft of the dynamic energy that characterised the original album. Considering that the music is the main reason that most people would consider buying this film at all, it seems a shame to have so little actual Who music in the film.
As for the DVD, you certainly do get your money's worth, nicely packaged and presented, and plenty of extras on the second disc. But despite some classic moments, and genuinely good performances from Reed, Ann-Margret and Roger Daltrey (as Tommy), it just doesn't represent the brilliance of the album for me at all, and is a bit of an anachronism. Fans of the album will be disappointed, and I can't see myself watching it very often.