Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001) — Bringing back emotional rock

“Now all I got is a Barbie doll crotch.”

DnaError’s rating: Shtupendous! Mavhelous!

DnaError’s review: If jazz was once called “the dirty girl done good,” then rock can be called the villain at the end of the movie. No matter how many times you think it’s dead, it pops up to headbang once again.

For a while in the late ’90s, it appeared that rock might have finally bit the bullet. Gone was the abandon, the frenzy, the cathartic madness. We would have been forced to listen to empty, slick, dancable numbers forever if Hedwig hadn’t reared his/her blonde wig and shouted back the shake, rattle and roll back into rock.

First thing out of the way. Hedwig and the Angry Inch is *not* like Rocky Horror. Both have guys in drag and both have music, but exist on two entirely different planes. Rocky is a comedy, a naughty spoof that relishes in it’s own brazenness. Hedwig however, is more like a tragic opera, swelling and bursting with pathos, love, obsession, and music. It’s funny, ironic, mournful, and truthful, and contains the best pure rock soundtrack of the last 10 years.

What Hedwig accomplishes, what makes it great, is that it gets to the roots of artistic drive. At the beginning of drama, the worship of Dynosisis called the Dithrabum, called for screaming and tearing of hair, all to the achieve kathkos (where we get Catharsis) a purging of emotion and pain through large public ritual. Hedwig recreates this atmosphere with a whirlwind tour of pop-culture and American music, until it all reaches an operatic fever pitch.

It’s all so overpowering, so earnest, so up-front about love and desire, about art’s role in passion, that by the end you want to scream out as well. Don’t be scared off by the dresses, guys, this is a story that will cut you in two, about the most basic things in life. It also has a kickin’ soundtrack and moments of obscene hilarity. Hedwig creates the atmosphere of a rock concert playing directly to you, a modern dithrabum of one. What more can you ask of art?

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