Leaving the cinema on my first viewing of Control, with its harrowing climax of a distraught Deborah Curtis running out into the street, it took me several hours to collect my thoughts on what I’d just watched. It’s an incredible film that pulls no punches, and yet knowing the story so well from so many sources I thought I was prepared for it. That it was based on Debbie Curtis’ book and directed by Anton Corbijn meant that we were always destined to get intimate with the truth*, and it would be an uncomfortable and tragic journey.
Like many (most?) of you I’ve been permanently emotionally shaped by the music of Joy Division and New Order; through their collective stories, their artfulness (by association with Factory and its command crew of savants), their independence, their individuality, and their determination. One hundred years from now people will still be wearing Unknown Pleasures t-shirts, and I hope that those futurists will have an understanding of why, because the cultural impact of Curtis, Sumner, Hook, Morris, Gilbert, Gretton, Wilson, Saville, Hannett and Erasmus should endure because it’s such a powerful story.
Control is an incredible movie founded on incredible music; not only of Joy Division, but their influences and contemporaries (including Lou Reed, Buzzcocks, Bowie, Iggy, Roxy Music, Kraftwerk, etc). It’s a great soundtrack made even more poignant by the inclusion of several new instrumental pieces by the remaining band members in their final recordings together as a group; recordings which could so easily have backed a 2007-incarnation of Joy Division had Curtis lived on, because in them I hear the echoes of tracks like The Eternal, Auto-Suggestion, and As You Said. We also know New Order (collectively and individually) have a terrific line in soundtrack work, and the Control pieces make clear connections to tracks such as Soundtrack, Salvation, and Elegia.
Exit is for me the first half of a single-themed work, with Hypnosis being the second half. It is elegantly basic, with its three components of deep synth drones & washes, bass slides, and bell melody being perfect in their simplicity, and the synthetic reverbed ‘clicks’ / footsteps in the background sound just like a Hannett field recording. It is this simplicity from which Exit + Hypnosis manage to conjure a sense of stark beauty; not unlike a bleak winter’s scene, and I’m directly reminded of Kevin Cummins’ classic photo of Joy Division on Epping Walk Bridge, and Charles Meecham’s photo on the sleeve of the She’s Lost Control / Atmosphere 12″.
…to be continued in the Hypnosis review.
* …as distinct from 24 Hour Party People, where we got funky with the myth.
Rating (for Exit + Hypnosis combined):
Available on: Control