Monday, 19 January 2009

Film review - Hedwig and the Angry Inch *SPOILERS*

Before I begin I should probably mention that this blog relates to my collab channel on youtube and that there are three videos you should probably watch. The first is the film itself! Go away and come back later if you haven’t seen it. Then there is Mary-Kate’s vlogtag video and the last is my own vlogtag. Finished all that? Ok, read on then.

Also if I get details wrong you have to forgive me – I have only seen the film once! Oh and I can’t be bothered to check this through so there is a good chance babbling and crap will happen during this blog.

MK said (in the sidebar): “I wanted to mention at the end when Hedwig has a breakdown and tears off her facade and comes face to face with Tommy and we see that they almost look like the same person. Hedwig sees that she had basically made Tommy what she wanted to be. And therefore comes to the realization that she doesn't need anyone to be complete”

This is the part that most stood out for me I think. Tommy Gnosis and Hedwig come face to face, much like the symbol Hedwig fixates on. She has been searching all her life to face that someone who can complete the circle. She has stripped down to his image taking off her wig that signifies that part of her life. At first glance one may think Hedwig has become a reflection of Tommy.

However on closer thinking we remember who made Tommy Gnosis. Hedwig created him – his songs, his act and his image. When she stands there looking at him she is actually looking at a reflection of herself, and not the other way around as it may originally seem. She is not idolising him, she is realising herself. This is affirmed when she gives her wig away to Yitzhak; in her realisation that she can be what she idolised she is suddenly free.

There is another scene that emphasises this – the scene where Hedwig brings the mirror over her face to show Tommy his new image. We see half of his face on hers. With the camera pointing towards Hedwig as she brings the mirror across Tommy’s face is purely the reflection.

Thinking about this in terms of the song Origin of Love there are some lyrics I want to pay particular attention to:

1) “One that looked like two men, Glued up back to back, Called the children of the sun. And similar in shape and girth, Were the children of the earth. They looked like two girls, Rolled up in one. And the children of the moon, Were like a fork shoved on a spoon. They were part sun, part earth, part daughter, part son.”

2) “Last time I saw you, We had just split in two. You were looking at me. I was looking at you. You had a way so familiar, But I could not recognize, Cause you had blood on your face; I had blood in my eyes. But I could swear by your expression, That the pain down in your soul, Was the same as the one down in mine. That's the pain, Cuts a straight line
Down through the heart; We called it love.”

Okay so the first lyrics show that Hedwig believed there to be three sexes. Two men together made one sex, two women together made another, then one of each made the third. I believe Hedwig places herself in the latter. Neither fully a woman, nor fully a man due to the botched operation and her consequential ‘angry inch’ she is the third sex. The second set of lyrics I quote then are most likely to refer not to a couple being split in two, but the two sides of herself. Hedwig is the female side of her and Tommy Gnosis (the image not him) is the male side to her.

Of course the splitting of herself was her own doing. In creating Tommy Gnosis she split herself. The pain in her soul is the lost side of her – the part of her she has given away to Tommy. But at that scene where they face each other she realises who she is. She is complete and finally understands that for her to find love, it must come from within. This is also emphasised by the leaving of Yitzhak – Hedwig basically send him away. She no longer needs another half for she herself is complete. As the song says: “So we wrapped our arms around each other, Trying to shove ourselves back together. We were making love. Making love.” Hedwig and Yitzkah were two people try to ‘shove’ themselves back together. The word ‘shove’ signifies something that is not meant to be – something that is forced. ‘Making love’ in this case, it seems, is fake, not real. Again this is the realisation.

MK said: “In "The Origin of Love" the part where he sings "we'll be hoping around on one foot and looking through one eye" and there is someone writing 'Deny me and be Doomed' I don't exactly understand what that means. I want to assume Hedwig is referring to Tommy but I feel the song is a separate story from her own.”

The way I take the song is a bit different, although as with most films I do not believe there is a right or wrong way of taking anything. I think ‘Deny me and be doomed’ is a warning from the Gods. It is a threat that should we, humans, should become strong again, we will be cut into smaller pieces. In terms of ideological stance the story is therefore not a particularly happy one. We are destined to stay as our ‘lonely two legged’ selves forever destined to know our place in the world as inferior. Of course ‘the Gods’ I am sure stands for something else – perhaps hegemonic ideology or contemporary society? Don’t Western ideals state capitalisation and individualism as ideals with the American Dream having replaced evolution as a way of dispensing with the weak members of society? That is really a whole other discussion and one I cannot be bothered to test my brain with now.

However another explanation that goes through my mind is that the threat is Hedwig’s perhaps not to Tommy but to the image of Tommy. Should Hedwig deny the Tommy Gnosis part of her and she will be doomed to live forever searching for her other half. Of course we could also link the idea of Gnosis (knowledge) with the idea of ‘deny me and be doomed’ as a temptation. And THEN I would go into Adam and Eve territory. Eve eats from the tree of knowledge and they are cast out of paradise. But that really is a place I shouldn’t go right now.

I think I am going to end here. You may be able to tell that my brain is starting to ache. I was going to talk about the significance of Yitzhak and the wig but someone else can do that. Plus my friend just knocked on the door and came over for an hour so I have run out of time!

Love you all xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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