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Absolute Beginners

Absolute Beginners is a terrifically inventive original musical for the screen. Daring attempt to portray the birth of teenagedom in London, 1958, almost exclusively through song is based upon Colin MacInnes' cult novel about teen life and pop fashion in the percolating moments just before the youth cultural explosion in the early 1960s.

Absolute Beginners is a terrifically inventive original musical for the screen. Daring attempt to portray the birth of teenagedom in London, 1958, almost exclusively through song is based upon Colin MacInnes’ cult novel about teen life and pop fashion in the percolating moments just before the youth cultural explosion in the early 1960s.

Tenuous storyline is a typical one of teen love achieved, lost and regained, and is used as a mere string to which a constant parade of musical numbers and flights of fancy are attached.

Aspiring photographer Colin (Eddie O’Connell) and tyro fashion designer Suzette (Patsy Kensit) seem a perfect match, but when the latter begins getting ahead and becomes engaged to a snooty couturier played by James Fox, Colin decides to sell out and make the most of his connections in a last-ditch effort to win back his lady love.

In creating a stylized view of 1950s culture, director Julien Temple and lenser Oliver Stapleton have made great use of fabulous sets fashioned by production designer John Beard. An astonishing moving camera take throughout the Soho set in the early going represents a fully worthy homage to the opening shot of Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil.

Absolute Beginners

UK

  • Production: Virgin/Goldcrest/Palace. Director Julien Temple; Producer Stephen Woolley, Chris Brown; Writer Richard Burridge, Christopher Wicking, Don MacPherson; Camera Oliver Stapleton Editor Michael Bradsell, Gerry Hambling, Richard Bedford, Russell Lloyd; Music Gil Evans (arr.) Art John Beard
  • Crew: (Color) Widescreen. Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1986. Running time: 107 MIN.
  • With: Eddie O'Connell Patsy Kensit David Bowie James Fox Ray Davies Steven Berkoff
  • Music By: