Breaking Glass. Ahh. The film was one of the pivotal moments when music really stuck with me – the film came out in 1980, so I think it’s fairly safe to say I got my vinyl of the soundtrack in the Christmas of that year. A year or so later and we got our first video recorder and the first film we rented was this one. I had a huge Hazel O’Connor obsession, being ten and needing something to obsess over.
Cherry Red have been involved in a fantastic reissue package in 2012 – which includes postcards of original posters (cool!), a history book (with tons of things I never knew) and a press pack from 1980 – and they all fit perfectly inside a regular DVD case.
So, what’s it all about? Breaking Glass are a band fronted by Kate, she has rubbish musicians in the band, meets Danny who becomes her manager, sacks the band, gets some new musicians, gigs in loads of pubs, gets some label interest, they push Danny out and get a far more experienced manager and the band sell out, and burn out. The End.
It’s pricey, but now I’ve got it I’d say if you’ve wanted to see it again – after all, you’re unlikely to see it on television these days – then don’t hesitate to buy it. It’s a picture of the late seventies early eighties Britain – strikes, fights, music, attitude – all summed up in just over 100 minutes – and of course it has Hazel O’Connor’s fantastic soundtrack. There’s old London venues, long gone. There are areas that look recognisable these days – it’s a different time though, one of over thirty years ago. The acting isn’t brilliant, but it doesn’t detract from the film.
Then there’s the actors – once unknown, or previously having been in Quadrophenia, these days well-known – Phil Daniels, Jonathon Pryce, Jim Carver from The Bill, Charlie from Casualty, Gary Tibbs from Adam and the Ants (and of course Roxy Music) and the recently departed Jon Finch. Lest we forget Hazel O’Connor of course in the main role as Kate.
Then there’s something the historical notes point out – Hazel O’Connor pretty much is the only female in the film – sure, some do feature – but not prominently. Yet there’s little sexism there – Breaking Glass aren’t a female fronted New Wave band (well at least not until they sign to a label), they’re a band and it’s about all of them.
(sidenote – it also mentions Rock Follies, a programme I was just too young for which was never repeated – but I think I may need to buy that on DVD as both series are available)
Why have I loved this film? Probably from growing up with the soundtrack and being way too young to see it at the cinema. Plus it’s a kind of musical but of my era – none of this ‘Blood Brothers’ style stuff, and it’ll never make it to the stage – it’s of its time. It nearly wasn’t made, had it not been for Dodi Fayed, fact fans.
So yes, Breaking Glass. If you’re like me and will probably watch this every five years or so and have a night of wine and reminiscing, get the reissue! Hazel O’Connor has also written a book which covers this, which I’m going to treat myself to next. Here’s the trailer: