Hits to the Heart and Mind from the Land of Dreams
In the immensely creative power chord that is The Who, Quadrophenia is a milestone.
Considering the volumes of material written about this album and film; this will be a quick review of the movie's obvious but worthwhile messages.
The always soul-teeming London took on a vibrantly electric atmosphere in the world changing 60's. A stratum of this was the Mods, a group and theme that had already started to form in the 50's; punctuated by ultra-cool fashion, speed and snazzy Italian scooters. The tenents and feel of the Mods is powerful enough to have revived more than once; and its influence is still felt. Their natural enemy, of course they had to have one, were the Rockers.
This is perhaps more than a backdrop, as the story comes from the very weave of this time and place; but with it as setting, The Who viscerally explores the depths of a world seemingly made up of horribly tough choices and no choices. Countless people have known this reality. Roger Daltrey once said that when he was growing up, there were three ways off the streets: crime, sports, music. He also said he would have been good at any of them. And you know he would have been.
Perhaps the movie's main point.
Kevin: That's why I joined the army, to be different
To be your own person, distinguishable and free. Alas, the answer doesn't lie in any external symbols or movements. Those can become as much of a jailer as whatever we're trying to break free from; and sometimes heroes turn out to be bellboys. Though, here we are and what's in front of us is what's in front of us and there are things that we can't help but chase; even become immersed in. Some phases are probably inevitable parts of the road.
Kevin: I don't give a monkey's arsehole about the Mods and Rockers.Underneath, we're all the same,
Jimmy: No, Kev, that's it. Look, I don't wanna be the same as everybody else.
That's why I'm a Mod, see? I mean, you gotta be somebody, ain't ya, or
you might as well jump in the sea and drown.
Again, the mistake of being part of a group of some sort to escape being like everybody else; which is also a group of some sort. Still, who can blame us or say its wrong when we sometimes fall for our Italian scooter?; whatever that might be for us. Maybe more vital to examine is the belief that being the same as everyone else, which we are in a certain fundamental sense, sacrifices uniqueness and even any relevancy. It is arguable that the world is growing more and more aware that this is not the case. The beautiful paradox of being elementally homogonous and yet strikingly one of a kind, each and every single one of us; may be surfacing in our common awareness as a great truth.
(Jimmy shouts from the cliff top after deciding not to be a mod.)
Another vital message of the movie
Peter: If you don't work, you don't get paid no money. And I like money.
Well, wait. Maybe that's just more succinct than a message. Peter, you should have been a politician or adman. We could use some more getting-to-the-point in both those fields.
Mr. Fulford: I must say I find your attitude incomprehensible. I feel I must warn you Cooper
that we can't tolerate this kind of absentism amongst our junior staff. You got a good,
steady job here, Cooper, plenty of young men would give their eye-teeth to be in
One of life's possible little vagaries. If you feel imprisoned you feel imprisoned. No matter to what degree you realize or don't realize that you have a break that the next guy doesn't; the feeling is still there. We all know when something is gnawing at us, that it is sadly easy to conjure up examples of those far worse off. Yet, even this reach of perspective does little or nothing, sometimes, to ease the yearning or the pain. What does this tell us about frustrations and desires? Perhaps, that they have their own place and even right to be felt. And while it is no doubt good to think vigilantly of the rest of the world, our own moments are just that; our own.
Mrs. Cooper): Ridin' about on them motorbikes all night, I'm not surprised. It's not normal.
Jimmy: Oh, yeah? What's normal, then?
'Ere, I mean Here; a relatively subdued but important moment of the film.
Jimmy: 'Ere, I never realized.
Kevin: Never realized what?
Jimmy: You's a rocker.
The passed on prejudices and filters switched off due to simply going unnoticed. Would it be so hard to purposefully, merely -- release them?
Steph: Going to be one of the faces?
Jimmy: What do you mean going to be? I am one of the faces!
Jimmy is. We are. We are all one of the faces. Each moving to figure and define what that means for us. Laughing, crying, screaming, whispering. Sometimes, thoughts racing a thousand miles a minute. Running, striving, reaching. Sometimes in repose. Pondering, quiet, nearly silent - with only the rhythm of the rain.
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