Sunday, July 16, 2006

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

It was five years ago today that I first saw the movie version of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. It was the closing film of the 2001 Philadelphia International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. I had heard quite a bit about the Off-Broadway musical the film was based upon but had not seen a production. It was shown at the Prince Music Theater, which drew a sold-out crowd. Needless to say I was quite taken by the movie. I'd go see Hedwig in its original theaterical run three more times. More than once I'd come out of the theater saying to myself, "Now THIS is what a summer movie ought to be!" I'd also get both the soundtrack album and the original Off-Broadway cast recording and listen to them a lot during that summer.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch's story concerns Hedwig, born as Hansel, a boy living in Communist East Berlin, who falls in love with an American G.I. and has a botched sex-change operation (resulting in "an angry inch") in order to marry him and escape to the West. When the soldier leaves her a year later, ironically it's on the day that the Berlin Wall comes down. Years later she tours the US with her pan-Slavic rock band--known as The Angry Inch--as she tells her life story and follows Tommy Gnosis the ex-boyfriend/bandmate who stole her songs and became a big rock star without acknowledging her.

Hedwig is searching for what she calls her "better half." She tries to find the person or relationship that can make her complete, yet again and again she is abandoned and disappointed. I can defintely identify with that, feeling out of place myself and hoping that she'll find what she's looking for so she can have some peace of mind. John Cameron Mitchell did a great job creating both the play and the movie. It's a shame that this film was stuck in the art-house film circuit during its theaterical run and didn't have a chance to play the suburban cineplexes.

A side note on the night I first saw Hedwig--there was a closing party for the film festival after the movie, which was included with the price of the ticket. It was held at the city's sole lesbian bar Sisters. There was a buffet and they gave out yellow styrofoam cutouts of Hedwig's wig, which I snatched one. I still have it today.

(P.S. This year's Philly International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival is going on now. I'm going into the city later today to try and see the new documentary on the New York gay rugby team the Gotham Knights titled With You!)


Blogger The Divine Ms. Jimmi said...

I love Hedwig!! That is the greatest rock film made in a long time!!

5:48 PM  
Blogger hot-lunch said...

This is one of my favourite films of all time. I love "Origin Of Love" and "Wig In a Box" - two of the most outstanding numbers from any musical!

1:13 PM  

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