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Joy Division: Under Review and Control

Guns ‘n Roses didn’t write Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door. Nine Inch Nails didn’t write Dead Souls. But I heard the covers before the originals, and it was NIN’s cover of Dead Soul’s featured on The Crow soundtrack that made me aware of Joy Division. Back when I still read liner notes, of course.

Joy Division created some amazing works in their 4 short years. Their influence can still be felt today- She Wants Revenge, Interpol, LCD Soundsystem, to other eighties and nineties bands such as NIN, The Cure, Bauhaus, and Depeche Mode.

Joy Division – Under Review

Under Review is a short documentary that covers the band from it’s start as Warsaw to the post-Curtis New Order. It features rare video footage of the band and interviews with several writers who were familiar with the whole scene at the time. Consider it the Cliff’s Notes to Joy Division. No former members are interviewed, making it very much an outsider’s perspective. And, due to it’s length, there are any full performances. However, it is a worthwhile watch if you have 70 minutes to spare.


So, I’ve been waiting for this film for about 6 months. It’s a beautiful film shot in black and white and involved all of the people that should be involved in a work of this nature: it’s based on the book by Curtis’ wife, Deborah; it was produced by both Deborah and Tony Wilson, directed by Anton Corbijn- a Joy Division fan and director of fantastic music videos such as Depeche Mode’s Personal Jesus and Nirvana’s Heart Shaped Box; and Sam Riley, whose superb acting did Curtis justice (though he didn’t replicate the butterfly spasm dance perfectly).

There are frame by frame remakes of the famous ‘So It Goes’ performance, glimpses (and I mean glimpses) into the inspiration for ‘She’s Lost Control’, ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’, and ‘Isolation’, and insight into the situation that lead to Curtis’ suicide. One’s expectations for the film must be framed by the fact that is based on the book that his wife wrote- who he had cheated on and treated rather poorly. Thus, this gives the film less us a life story lens (there are no childhood or family life incidences that could have been influences), making it feel much more like a love story. Granted, this is a huge factor in Curtis’ demise, but it definitely makes me wonder how laden the film is with a biased perspective.

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