Breaking Glass comes to DVD Featured

Monday, 19 November 2012 18:48
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Breaking Glass comes to DVDIt’s not often that a movie from as long ago as 1980 can suddenly have so much resonance with our current situation in the 21st Century. The groundswell of foreboding for what may be just around the corner, the spin applied to the media for personal and professional gain, and the manufacture of pop stars who have no concept of just how much they are being manipulated immediately comes to mind. So it is that we are treated to the welcome release of “Breaking Glass”, out now on DVD from Strike Force Entertainment and Cherry Red Records.

The movie’s star, Hazel O’Connor, whose character is initially principled and not wishing to ‘sell out’ to the music industry, finds out that compromise leads to exactly what she doesn’t want. She loses everything which is important, and gains nothing which was sought within her original plans.  Her manipulation reminds us of the likes of today’s Lady Gaga, Jessie J, Katy Perry and most recently Ke$ha (plus a host of others), who have no idea what they are getting into.

Indeed, as visitors to the website Vigilant Citizen have discovered, the endless procession of female singers who have their promo videos littered with Satanic imagery is not only disturbing, but their ignorance of what is being placed within such mini-adventures causes you to shake your head in disbelief. Puppets dancing to someone else’s metaphorical tunes, only the music remains their own.

“Breaking Glass” exposes exactly why such singers of today lose their creative control.  The pressures that a breakthrough brings, being surrounded by ‘suits’ who want it all - right here, right now - before the bubble bursts, or the tide of interest ebbs away.

“You’re a program” sings Kate Crowley, Hazel O’Connor’s character, almost mainlining to the notion of the ‘Holographic Universe’, something which is now a key to David Icke’s view of the world around us. She breaks the fourth wall in the opening minutes of the movie, walking through a near-deserted underground train on the move, singing directly to us, demanding that we view the “Writing on the Wall”. The word is out that this is no ordinary film. We are in the matrix, being dehumanised, turned by transhumanists into husks removed from our conscious selves. 

In terms of the plot, we meet hustler Danny, played by Phil Daniels (Jimmy in “Quadrophenia” and more recently Kevin Wicks in Eastenders), who buys up huge stashes of a single that A&R man Fordyce (Mark Wing Davey – Zaphod in Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) wants to hype into the charts. The song in question is “One More Time” by Susie Sapphire, whose vocals are provided, according to the closing credits, by Victy Silva. Victy was featured on the soundtracks of the likes of “Silver Dream Racer”, “Time Bandits” and “Letter to Brezhnev”, and her website states she took part in the “Breaking Glass” soundtrack. 

However, according to the “Viewing Notes” booklet provided with the DVD, this track was in fact recorded by Hazel O’Connor.  That said, it does beg the question as to why this song was not included on the soundtrack album, if that was the case. Just to add more confusion to the mix, the vocal actually sounds more like an artist called Cristina, who recorded such tracks as “Things Fall Apart” and “Disco Clone” for the Ze label between 1978 and 1984. When you watch the film, listen carefully and let us know what you think!

Meanwhile, bumping into Kate as she fly-posts the clubs about her band, Danny is smitten and makes out he’s a music manager. Soon he’s finding her new musicians to populate her backing band, the “Breaking Glass” of the movie title. Amongst those coming in are Gary Tibbs (of Adam and the Ants fame) as Dave, Mark Wingett (Jim Carver in The Bill) as Tony, Peter Hugo-Daly (Bubbles in GBH) as drummer Mick ‘Lethal’, and the iconic Jonathan Pryce as Ken, the hard-of-hearing saxophonist.

The record companies have their fingers in all the bigger venues, so it’s almost impossible to get any better gigs lined up.  As a consequence, Danny and Kate find themselves at Overlord Records, signing away the rights to the band’s first two years of songs to try and get on – a situation which was based on Hazel’s real-life deal with Albion Records, which happened just days before she got the role in “Breaking Glass”.

We see the band triumphantly play what these days would be called an ‘acoustic set’ in a packed venue during a power cut.  It’s Christmas Eve, and Jim Broadbent puts in a cameo as a Station Porter, trying to tell the band they can’t get home by rail due to a strike – something that doesn’t stop them boarding the train and moving off anyway.

The PR folk demand a big producer be brought in to produce the debut album, and on the band’s suggestion, they are landed with Bob Woods, played by Jon Finch. Jon had played Mr Ferguson in “Death on the Nile” (1978), and the lead in “Macbeth” (1971), as well as starring on TV as the lead role, a character called Simon King, in the BBC’s Counterstrike (1969).

The more Danny and Kate try to negotiate with the system, the more they find their ideals subverted. The pressure on Kate is mounting, and she becomes ever-more aware that fans are copying her fashion sense and haircuts.

Kate becomes a commodity, and there’s nothing that Danny and the grounded members of the band can do about it. The film has Shakespearean undertones with its tragedy, but in the end, for those who can see it, there is hope and potential, of light at the end of the tunnel.

On the production side of things, casting was by Esta Charkham, assisted by her daughter Beth Charkham, and what a terrific job they did. Brian Gibson, the late Director and Writer of the film, is attributed with having twisted the arms of many of the cast to take part in little more than cameos. This included folk of the likes of Richard Griffiths (as a Studio Engineer), Michael Kitchen (Larner), Ken Campbell (Publican), Gary Olson (Guy at Bar), Zoot Money (Promotion Man), writers Jonathan Lynn (Radio DJ) and Peter Tilbury (CID Officer), and Derek Thompson (as Andy here, but better known for playing Charlie Fairhead in Casualty). Look hard and you may even see Boy George (Culture Club) as an uncredited extra.

The music is pivotal to the film, and Hazel O’Connor’s penning of all the songs is testament to how everything gelled together on this project. Indeed, just as in the movie where Kate got her producer of choice, so Hazel did with Tony Visconti - already famous at the time for his work with David Bowie, T-Rex and Iggy Pop.

Will You”, an epic ballad, was the song which convinced Visconti to take the production helm on the “Breaking Glass” soundtrack.

Big Brother” is an anthem for our times, with lyrics such as “But the people in control don't care for you; Say you're just a robot with a job to do; And when your use is exhausted, they'll be rid of you”.

Calls The Tune” includes what Hazel describes as the “Maya in Illusion” moment - as the Hindu faith would put it – where the Kate character sees a great many copycats following her style on the streets.

With “Eighth Day”, this is Genesis in Biblical texts meeting Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis”. It’s an instant music video, with “Tron”-style glowing costumes for the remaining band members, putting across the arrogance of mankind to his home planet.

In terms of DVD extras, you get a brand new 37 minute interview with Hazel O’Connor, which is one of the most uplifting background stories ever committed to film. She gives us inside gossip on the production, the most notable being that when United Artists bailed out of bankrolling the production due to the budget over-run on “Heaven’s Gate”, it was a chance meeting with Dodi Fayed (yes, THAT Dodi Fayed) at the Cannes Film Festival which led to him putting up the finance to lens the picture. Fayed would then go on to co-fund “Chariots of Fire”.

Hazel notes that, in terms of various industrial strikes at the time of filming, real events suggested a type of apocalypse was within sight, although not one which would be fatal. The reality of happenings versus what was seen in the media encouraged people who were ‘switched on’ to take a long, hard look at what was really going on in the world.  Indeed, she has continued to do this, noting how she does not believe the fateful events of 9/11 as we have been told them, especially the official version of the fall of the Twin Towers. She considers the narrative to be bogus – there simply to heighten restrictions on our civil liberties.

Hazel notes that the secret to her getting hold of and then surviving fame and everything it brings with it was the book “Bring Out The Magic of Your Mind” by Al Koran.  It was a candid recommendation, and on the strength of it I’ve gone out and ordered a copy.

So, we turn to other extras. In addition to the digitally re-mastered British original version of the film (you can find out what the Americans did to the cut of the movie in Hazel’s interview), the DVD also includes the original cinema trailer.

Aside from what’s on the disc, you also get a 20 page reproduction of the original Press Pack from 1980, plus colour postcards of original promotional posters from the UK, Hungary, France and Germany, and a 28 page illustrated booklet, featuring viewing notes and rare stills, written by film historian Marcus Hearn.

The press release for this film suggests “Breaking Glass” is “often referred to as one of Britain’s best kept secrets in British cinema history”. Given that it’s taken me 32 years to get around to watching it, I would agree wholeheartedly. And to all those people in the music industry - the minders, manipulators, financers, sharks and mind-controllers – I say this: please take this film as a warning, and NOT an instruction manual.

“Breaking Glass – The Collectors’ Edition” is out now from SFE/Cherry Red. The running time is 100 minutes approx, has a ‘15’ certificate, and a RRP of £19.99 – or get it for less at

Last modified on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 14:36

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