This was England
When Breaking Glass was playing cinemas in late 1980, I'd already seen Stardust, also a drama warning us of the machinations of the music industry, but set in the world of rock bands. Recently, I caught up with Slade in Flame which also preceded it. But I found this far more engaging, the main difference being the punk attitude and birth of several music genres. Back in 1980 though, this music could be heard all over the radio and even on Top of the Pops and the movie Quadrophenia (1979) had already captured the attitude effectively.
So instead, that month, I opted to go see the very different musical movies Can't Stop The Music and Fame, ahem. With the gift of retrospection I should've seen Breaking Glass.
I remember songs from the soundtrack being in the charts and hadn't realised that singer/star Hazel O'Connor has been recruited for the film, which launched her as a pop act in parallel with the plot! The songs 'Eighth Day' and 'Will You' were the strongest, but it's fair to say her career as a singer and actor floundered soon afterwards.
|Film Review, August 1980
|Janine Duvitski and Hazel O'Connor
|Full page ad from Film Review, October 1980
While the story has few surprises and the dialogue more than a few unintentional laughs, the rare representation of the political, musical and fashion scenes are a valuable snapshot of what was going on at the pivotal dawn of the '80s.
Hazel O'Connor's many images includes one that predates the scary Pris (Daryl Hannah) of Blade Runner and a glowing circuitry suit and helmet before Tron had been made.
Phil Daniels plays the band's manager, linking this movie to Scum and Quadrophenia, making a violent and cynical trilogy of young people finding out about the system in place. Inexplicably, this was his last great role.
Jonathan Pryce (just before Something Wicked This Way Comes, Terry Gilliam's Brazil) has a good, but largely mute, supporting role as a deaf saxophonist. The enigmatic Jon Finch (The Final Programme, Frenzy, The Vampire Lovers) struggling to avoid TV roles. Jim Broadbent and Richard Griffiths have pre-fame cameos, as well as future feature director Jonathan Lynn. There's also the original Zaphod Beeblebrox (of radio and TV), Mark Wing-Davey, and Gary Tibbs just before he joined Adam and the Ants.
All this and a beginner's guide to rigging the pop charts...
Breaking Glass has recently been restored for DVD and blu-ray in the US, with a longer 'uncut' edition released on DVD in the UK. Unusually for downbeat British cinema, it was shot 2.35 widescreen.