Have seen two films this weekend about youths in the grips of obsession: the remake of Fame and The Baader Meinhof Complex. On the surface, they are very much the same movie, although one is better made, the story of young people so driven by a passion that on the surface makes sense but when you get into it is really nuts that that are willing to destory anything that stands between them and their precious abstract ideal.

In BMC, the young people go on a killing spree to bring down the fascist state.

In Fame, we see them force their family and friends at graduation watch the most Godawful spectacle of a message song about making your dreams come true, complete with students dressed up as Polynesian tribal dancers for a brief Stomp segue.

Yes, you will say, unlike the crimes of the Baader Meinhof, nobody died from having to watch that Performing Arts High graduation, but tell that to the people who sat through it who will be haunted by those memories forever. Even the extras who were there to shoot the scene.

I am not saying young dreamers should be jailed; certainly not, anyone familiar with my Idol work knows I am extremely pro-young dreamers. All I’m suggesting is we need to keep an eye on them. And know their passions can be used for evil as well as good. When they are planning a graduation scene like the “Body Electric” finale of the original film, they deserve our praise and support. But when they plan to blow up Swedish Embassies or graduations like the one in the Fame remake, then its time to step in with the full power of the state and crush them.

On a more tragic note, I lay away all night quaking from having been witness to the violence done to Alan Parker’s original masterpiece. There is no more important issue for cinema to deal with than what its like to go to a performing arts high school, and it pains me to say this film marched straight away from that responsibility.

Not only did the filmmaker strip the original text of all its pathos, angst, joy and wonder, but they added insult to injury by actually re-staging several scenes from the original, but stripping out three or four layers of meaning, as though the filmmakers were unable to understand the complexities at work in the subway scene or Coco’s “Out Here On My Own” scene.

Bruno Martelli, Leroy, Coco, Mr. Shorofsky, Ralph and most of all you Doris, my heart goes out to you on this tragic day.

But all that said, they pulled off a very creditable re-staging of the “Hot Lunch” theme that for a moment, made you feel that PA was still PA…Very effective dancing on tables and group singalong indeed.

Now let’s visit one more time to that magical moment in history, when young people’s dreams were used for good rather than twisted in hate, and we all sung the body electric.

Thoughts on Fame and Baader Meinhof | 2009 | the cinema | Comments (1)

One Response to “Thoughts on Fame and Baader Meinhof”

  1. HE says:

    I haven’t seen Fame, but Baader is an excellent film. Very intense, exciting, and intelligent.

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