Thursday, 23 January 2014

Quadrophenia

Set in London in 1964, this movie was partly responsible for an upsurge in parka-wearing in the early 1980s and the appearance of mod revival bands such as Secret Affair and the Purple Hearts on Top of the Pops.

It focuses on troubled teenager Jimmy, played by an amphetamine-fuelled Phil Daniels. Jimmy is a mod. He escapes from his boring job as a postroom boy at an advertising agency by submerging himself in his chosen subculture of scooters, The Who, pills and hatred of rockers.
He's essentially a loner, but loves being part of the gang, though he often finds himself strangely at odds with it.
 
The film builds nicely to its set piece: a bank holiday weekend trip to Brighton, where the mods clash with their leather-clad rocker enemies.
 
Aside from the chance to see Lesley Ash before her lip implants and Toyah Willcox before she was a celebrity who wanted to "get out of here", Quadrophenia makes a few pertinent points about youth and youth culture that are still relevant. 
Some teenagers will always attach themselves to subcultures and experiment with sex, drugs, alcohol and violence - and eventually they will settle into a more conventional routine. Watching it again, however, I couldn't help thinking today's youth have to be more sophisticated than their 1960s counterparts, surrounded as they are by myriad cultural influences in their daily lives and the media. Life isn't so black and white these days.
 
For Jimmy, the mod scene turns to disillusionment and can't sustain the excitement he found in Brighton. He returns to the seaside resort, steals the silver scooter of Brighton's Ace face (Sting) - who, to Jimmy's disgust, turns out to be a bellboy at a hotel - before driving it off Beachy Head.

 You can watch the whole film via Youtube.

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