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CANNES 2007 Directors' Fortnight / UK

Homage to a lost poet


Homage to a lost poet

Ian Curtis, front man of the post-punk group Joy Division, was a poet. The beautiful lyrics of his songs prove that. He was a damned poet, a kind of Mallarmé or Rimbaud of the late 1970s and, like them, grasped the profound essence of reality.

In black and white superbly photographed by Martin Ruhe, Dutch director Anton Corbijn for his feature debut Control [+see also:
film profile
depicts the short life of this young man from north-eastern England who committed suicide at the age of 23 on May 18, 1980, on the eve of a tour in the US that would have definitively made him a superstar.

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Corbijn, a rock photographer par excellence (he has produced over 100 album and CD covers, including for U2, REM, Springsteen and Nick Cave) and director of music videos (Depeche Mode, Nirvana, Metallica, among many others) knows his subject and delves into the period marking the beginning of the most creative and prolific moment of the Manchester scene.

With David Bowie and Lou Reed past their heydey and the Sex Pistols emerging with the power for their punk rock, Ian Curtis (well portrayed by Sam Riley) was a young worker in a Macclesfield placement agency, afflicted with epilepsy and obsessed with poetry. He dreamt of becoming famous with his band and succeeded in no time, after meeting the influential Tony Wilson, who hosted him on his television show and signed him to his recording label.

Married overly young to Debbie (a wonderful Samantha Morton), with whom he had a little girl, Curtis soon fell in love with a Belgian girl who followed him on his concerts throughout the country. His immense sensitivity, his battle between his conscience and his heart and his illness ultimately led him to the tragic decision to take his own life.

Produced by Northsee Limited in association with EM Media, IFF/CINV, 3 Dogs and a Pony Japan and Warner Music UK, Control is a musical film for all those who lived through those turbulent times and to young people today curious to know where that dark fascination came from for many contemporary bands that were inspired by Joy Division, and simultaneously, as the director put it, "a personal film" on a young man who represented an island in and of himself and lost control of his life.

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(Translated from Italian)

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