Dave Jennings looks at the long awaited re-release of legendary cult 80’s film which launched the career of Hazel O’Connor.
Set in a Britain of social decay, economic depression and disillusionment among youth and popular culture, itâs depressing to think that the film âBreaking Glassâ is actually thirty two years old.
However, some things are timeless and a lot of the issues covered in the film are as relevant today as they were then.
This was the movie that broke the career of Hazel OâConnor in the role of Kate, the idealistic young punk singer who sees her band taken over and shaped by wannabe music promoter Danny, played by Phil Daniels, hot from his success in Quadrophenia.
Possibly one of the most remarkable aspects of the casting looking back is not just the performance that Hazel OâConnor produced in her film debut, but that the producers were so impressed on seeing her perform live during the casting process that they invited her to write the soundtrack.
The plot centres on Kateâs career being guided by Danny who decides she needs a new band and the subsequent auditions scene includes a shot of the legendary Rat Scabies trying unsuccessfully to join the band.
The story develops as the new band, Breaking Glass, attempts to make it big with songs that highlight the anarchist-type tendencies of Kate. Neo-Nazi organisations, violence at gigs and in the streets and slippery music promoters all feature prominently during the ensuing events but at the heart of the film is the developing love affair between Kate and Danny and Kateâs increasingly futile attempts to maintain a semblance of control over her career.
Danny is marginalised by a big-time music manager played by Jon Finch and the band begins to fall apart despite becoming more and more successful. Record company pressure sees Kate give in to demands to change lyrics to avoid offending people before spiralling into a drug fuelled breakdown.
Breaking Glass is undoubtedly representative of certain elements of social unrest in 1980, and the music business story-lines of manipulation and commercialisation of young artistâs dreams are depressingly familiar in rock history right back to the 1950âs.
There is probably a certain naivety in the plot and some overly-stereotyped characterisations but making a fictional movie about a rock band, and in the process try capture such a diverse period as the late 1970âs is some challenge for script-writers. Breaking Glass does a very good job when all is considered, contains some pretty good tunes and showcased some outstanding acting talent. For these reasons, alongside some decent bonus material which includes the original cinema trailer and a Hazel OâConnor interview, this release is worth checking out.
All words by Dave Jennings. You can read more from Dave on LTW here.