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Control
May 16, 2008, 12:21 pm
Filed under: the arts | Tags: , , , ,

Control

Director: Anton Corbijn

“I’ve never meant for it to grow like this. I have no control anymore.”

Ian Curtis was only 23 when he took his own life. That is just one year older than me. Having listened to Joy Division before this movie was made and released, I always wondered what drove rock stars like Ian Curtis and his more prominent counterpart Kurt Cobain to kill themselves just when their popularity and achievement peaked. This movie shed some light on this enigma.

Control is above average aesthetically speaking. Filming the movie in monochrome enhanced the sense of brooding and simmering depression and tension below Curtis’s veneer and complements the overall moody tone of the movie. Curtis was well-played by an excellent Sam Riley, whose performance during the acted concert performances scattered throughout the movie was polished and felt like the real deal. The lack of public crowds whenever public settings like the streets are portrayed in the film accentuates the loneliness and emotional claustrophobia that Curtis endured.

What moved me most was the overall treatment of the subject and my interpretation of it. While Corbijn is a fan and this translated to probably a overly sympathetic portrayal of the tragic frontman, I remain more ambivalent about whether Curtis is truly a tragic figure. He was at the height of this career, and he had a loving wife, but he chose to engage in an illicit relationship with another woman. But on the other hand, his struggle with epilepsy and the outpouring of nihilistic emotions which he had to submerge his entire psyche in in order to pen such powerful songs as “She’s Lost Control” and “Love Will Tear Us Apart” earns much sympathy. Perhaps this is why he remains an enigmatic figure. One can never hope to decipher fully what ran through Curtis’ mind as he slipped on the noose and hanged himself.

In a sense Curtis is a romantic figure to which many aspire to emulate. Doesn’t it make sense to bow out when one is at the top? Everything that comes after one’s magnum opus will just seem like an anticlimax and letdown. Contribute what one has to the world, and when the work of one’s life is done, make a graceful exit and seal one’s immortality. Personally I hope to achieve that. I want to find my purpose, fulfill it, and end things at the peak.

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