A psychosomatically blind, deaf, and mute boy becomes a master pinball player and, subsequently, the figurehead of a cult.
“Tommy” is a British rock musical film released in 1975, directed by Ken Russell. The film is based on The Who’s rock opera album of the same name. Starring Roger Daltrey, Ann-Margret, Oliver Reed, and Elton John, “Tommy” tells the story of a young boy named Tommy Walker who, after witnessing a traumatic event, becomes deaf, dumb, and blind. Despite his disabilities, Tommy develops an extraordinary talent for pinball and eventually becomes a messianic figure to his followers.
The film features vibrant and visually striking scenes that capture the essence of the rock opera genre. Ken Russell’s direction emphasizes the surreal and fantastical aspects of the story, using extravagant set designs and highly stylized cinematography. The musical numbers are energetic and powerful, showcasing The Who’s iconic songs, including “Pinball Wizard,” “I’m Free,” and “See Me, Feel Me.”
The performances in “Tommy” are generally impressive. Roger Daltrey, who is also the lead singer of The Who, delivers a solid portrayal of the title character, capturing the internal struggle and transformation of Tommy Walker. Ann-Margret’s performance as Tommy’s mother is particularly noteworthy, as she brings emotional depth and intensity to her role, earning her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.
One aspect that some viewers may find challenging is the film’s nonlinear narrative structure. The story jumps back and forth in time, often blurring the line between reality and Tommy’s hallucinations. While this artistic choice can be disorienting at times, it adds to the film’s overall psychedelic and dreamlike atmosphere.
“Tommy” received mixed reviews upon its release. Some praised its innovative visuals, powerful musical numbers, and daring approach to storytelling. However, others felt that the film’s style overshadowed its substance, making it difficult to connect with the characters on a deeper level. Despite the mixed critical reception, “Tommy” has gained a cult following over the years and remains an important milestone in the genre of rock musicals.
In summary, “Tommy” is a visually stunning and musically captivating film that brings The Who’s rock opera to life. While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea due to its unconventional narrative structure, it is undoubtedly a unique cinematic experience that showcases the band’s talent and creativity. If you enjoy rock music and are intrigued by imaginative storytelling, “Tommy” is definitely worth a watch.