Joy Division - Control (a movie by Anton Corbijn) DVD


In his debut film, “Control,” about the last seven years of Mr. Curtis’s life, Anton Corbijn notes some of the figures in the young man’s personal canon — the expected proto-punk culture heroes (David Bowie, Lou Reed, J. G. Ballard), yes, but also William Wordsworth, whose “Ode: Intimations of Immortality” Mr. Curtis quotes from memory.

Of course, from its very first frame, “Control” is shadowed by intimations of its main character’s imminent mortality. Mr. Curtis, the lead singer in Joy Division, the great post-punk Manchester quartet, committed suicide in 1980, just before the band was to embark on its first American tour. He was 23, and in the years since his death he has become a canonical figure in his own right. Even as Joy Division’s austere, brooding songs — “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” “Isolation,” “She’s Lost Control” — have continued to influence musicians from all corners of the musical cosmos, they have lost very little of their glum, haunting power.

The challenge facing Matt Greenhalgh, the screenwriter, and Mr. Corbijn, a celebrity photographer who took pictures of the real Joy Division a few months before Mr. Curtis died, is how to tell this story of great promise and early death without turning it into yet another exercise in pop martyrology. How, in other words, to take account of Mr. Curtis’s artistic life and its premature end without treating them as simple cause and effect. The worst and most common failing in movies of this kind — biographies of artists, musicians in particular — is that they turn creativity into a symptom and fate into pathology. One of the great virtues of “Control” is that it does not fall into this trap. Where it might have been literal-minded and sentimental, it is instead enigmatic and moving, much in the manner of Joy Division’s best songs.

You hear a lot of these on the soundtrack, flawlessly performed by Mr. Riley and the other members of the cast (Joe Anderson on bass, James Anthony Pearson on guitar and Harry Treadaway as the wisecracking drummer) who turned themselves into an uncannily persuasive tribute band. (Just how good they are may not become fully apparent until you hear the real Joy Division’s version of “Atmosphere” over the end credits.)


Suitable only for persons of 6 years and over.


Media: Near Mint (NM or M-)

Sleeve: Near Mint (NM or M-)