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Cambridge educated Granada tv presenter, Tony Wilson (Steve Coogan) is one of a handful of people attending an early Sex Pistols gig in Manchester in 1976. Inspired by this moment in rock history, he and some friends set up a unique record label, Factory Records, which signs a declaration in blood; it shall not bind its artists nor own their works. They sign up Joy Division (who go on to become New Order), and then come Happy Mondays. Wilson and co also open the most ambitious dance club ever, The Hacienda. It’s popular, but loses money in large quantities. By November 1992, the party’s over.

Review by Louise Keller:
Innovative cinema that hones in on the Manchester music scene with flair and raw energy, 24 Hour Party People lives up to its name with an irreverent and affectionate romp into the world of sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. Structured as a pseudo doco and including two decades of musical and cultural history, it’s certainly clever and while I wasn’t totally engaged for all of the film’s running time, there are plenty of memorable moments. 

Of course if you are into the music, all’s the better, as there’s plenty on display here, and the way the music is integrated is nothing short of brilliant. From a personal point of view, at the back of my mind, there is always that nagging question as to how pretentious some of the sequences actually are. Covering the period from 1976 to 1992, or ‘from the dawn of punk to the death of acid’, the script cleverly includes stories such as the Ian Curtis rock’n roll suicide, the Happy Monday tale, but it’s the pivotal role of the infamous Tony Wilson (wonderfully portrayed by Steve Coogan) that really grounds the film and makes it accessible. 

We first meet Wilson as he is just about to take off in a hang-gliding excursion. He is a novice and he crash-lands and curses and then gets the swing of it. A bit like the film really. Coogan’s easy manner is laid-back and highly entertaining in a back-of-the-hand confidant sort of way. He is almost precious in the way that he takes himself seriously, but of course we don’t. He is a great part of the entertainment. When you are making a film about a real period in music that involves real people, there are risks involved, but integrity is well maintained with newsreel footage integrated convincingly with the new footage. 

The two-disc DVD is a splendid presentation that will jump from the shelf for the many aficionados of the era. In fact, there is so much material that you could absolutely immerse yourself with the two separate commentaries, the deleted scenes, people of the era and Who’s Who in 24 Hour Party People, which is actually a subtitle option. Tony Wilson’s commentary is absolutely fascinating, as he describes the origin of the hang-gliding segment. The original series - Kamikaze – took place on the side of a Welsh Mountain – and the footage that we actually see combines Steve Coogan’s flight with the real crash footage from 1976. And as Wilson describes – ‘the proximity of the barbed wire fence was very obvious to him.’And that, plus the feature itself (and a competition which runs until October 30, 2003), only covers the first disc! 

What is Tony Wilson’s favourite line in the movie? Check out the interviews (one of 11) to find out. The Real Tony Wilson is a rather intriguing feature, as Wilson tells of his discomfort at his character being central to the film. I enjoyed the Michael Winterbottom profile plus there’s fly-on-the-wall footage in From the Factory Floor a group (Peter Hook, Rowetta, Martin Moscrop, Bobby Langley and Bruce Mitchell) who talk about their response as they watch the film. And that’s without even mentioning Playing People who are still alive and the Peter Saville Gallery which offers commentary over the posters and album covers is quite unique. 

Published September 18, 2003

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CAST: Steve Coogan, Shirley Henderson, Lennie James, Paddy Considine, Sean Harris, John Simm, Ralf Little, Danny Cunningham, Andy Serkis

DIRECTOR: Michael Winterbottom

SCRIPT: Frank Cottrell Boyce

RUNNING TIME: 115 minutes

PRESENTATION: 16 : 9 widescreen;

SPECIAL FEATURES: Disc 1: Audio commentaries from Tony Wilson, Steve Coogan, Andrew Eaton; 24 deleted scenes; interviews with people of the era; new order ‘here to stay’ music video; who’s who in 24 hour party people; trailer Disc 2: Interviews; From the Factory Floor: video & commentary by artists and friends of the era; Michael Winterbottom profile; Peter Saville Gallery – Posters & album covers with commentary; The Real Tony Wilson; Genesis of 24 Hour party People; Playing People who are still alive; w4 Hour party people – the Book; Shaun Ryder – scooter Girl Filmclip;


DVD RELEASE: August 13, 2003

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