Control Movie Review (2007)
Anton Corbijn moved from the Netherlands to England as a young man and photographed post-punk band Joy Division during the height of their fame. One photo in particular was to become infamous. All of the band members with their backs to the camera contrast front man Ian Curtis standing apart and looking back. 7 years after Ian’s suicide, Corbijn directed the band’s video for Atmosphere. Come full circle, now in his early 50’s, Control has become Corbijn’s first feature film.
Caricaturized by Corbijn as a “kick-boxing butterfly,” the film follows Ian (played by newcomer Sam Riley) from the age of 17, when the band was known as Warsaw, until his suicide at 23 in 1980, preceding the band’s first US tour. The name Joy division harkens back to The House of Dolls, a 1955 novella by Ka-tzetnik 135633, detailing the horrors of Jewish women that were sexually exploited and forced into prostitution by Nazi soldiers during the Holocaust.
In one interview, the director states that he didn’t want to spoil the mystery of the band by exposing things too much, just relay a simple story. The story itself was compiled from various accounts from those who knew Ian, including the memoir Touching From a Distance by Deborah Curtis, Ian’s widow who became a co-producer for the film, and testimonies from Annik Honore, Ian’s mistress, and former band members (now New Order). The film is shot in black and white, the only way the band was ever captured, Corbijn says. In Control (2008) is Corbijn’s photographic diary of the film.
The only Joy Division tracks that appear in the film are Atmosphere and Love Will Tear Us Apart. All other tracks were learned and played by the actors. Debut EP An Ideal for Living, Unknown Pleasures and Closer were the band’s only albums.
Corbijn has maintained a prolific career photographing and directing music videos for Nick Cave, Nirvana, William Burroughs and countless others. He has worked intensely with Depeche Mode and U2, including providing the inspiration for what would become the name of one of U2’s most significant albums, Joshua Tree.
- Story A-
- Acting A
- Visuals A
- Originality/Innovation A-
- Enjoyability A
- Overall A-