“So many punk bands out at the time were making music that said ‘fuck you’; Joy Division strove to make something that said ‘I’m fucked’.” — Tony Wilson, founder of Factory Records
As I’ve demonstrated before, both Joy Division and New Order are legendary bands in my collective music appreciation. What Joy Division was creating in the late 1970s ventured far past simple post-punk riffs and creative lyrics–they expressed a yearning and need for something more than what their ravaged, hollow society could provide. Perhaps the city that they hailed from, Manchester, was the future of the world we know today. Once the shining beacon of the industrialized world, Manchester was at the same time the Pittsburgh and Los Angeles of 18th and 19th century England. However, the city was long past its glory days in the 1970s, most of its citizens living in poverty and squalor due to the heavy use of all available open space to advance industry.
In Grant Gee’s 2007 documentary Joy Division, we see the journey of 4 boys who desired life outside the city, but ultimately changed it forever. Like last year’s stark, haunting Ian Curtis biopic Control, this documentary beats with the dark and moody pulse of Joy Division’s finest, while weaving “the last, great true story of pop music.” Gee draws heavily from the accounts of those closest to the band and the remaining members of the band (now New Order), creating an honest, vulnerable, and absolutely brilliant film.
The film features rare footage of the band’s European shows, and one of the most chilling moments is audio from a hypnotizing session that guitarist Bernard Sumner pulled Curtis through–merely weeks before his suicide. It also includes video from their masterpiece BBC sessions, only adding to my jealousy towards my friend Kelly who recently bought the sessions on vinyl (still bitter, Kelly).
This week only, Pitchfork.tv is airing the full-length documentary in high quality video, and whether you are a massive Joy Division/New Order fan like myself, or simply love a great rock ‘n’ roll story, you must check it out.
Watch it here