24 Hour Party People

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24 Hour Party People

The US theatrical poster.
Directed by Michael Winterbottom
Produced by Andrew Eaton
Written by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Starring Steve Coogan
Paddy Considine
Danny Cunningham
Shirley Henderson
Lennie James
Sean Harris
Peter Kay
Cinematography Robby Müller
Editing by Trevor Waite
Distributed by Pathé (UK)
United Artists (USA)
Release date(s) Flag of the United Kingdom 5 April 2002
Flag of the United States 9 August 2002
Running time 117 min.
Country UK
Language English

24 Hour Party People is a 2002 film about Manchester's popular music community from 1976 to 1992, and specifically about Factory Records. It was written by Frank Cottrell Boyce and directed by Michael Winterbottom.

It begins with the punk rock era, and moves through the 1980s into the "Madchester" scene of the late 1980s and early 1990s. The main character is Tony Wilson, a news reporter for Granada Television and the head of Factory Records (played by comedian Steve Coogan), and the narrative largely follows his career, while also covering the major Factory artists, especially Joy Division and New Order, A Certain Ratio, The Durutti Column, and the Happy Mondays.

The movie is a dramatisation based on a combination of real events, rumours, urban legends and the imaginations of the scriptwriter - as the movie makes clear. In one scene featuring Howard Devoto (played by Martin Hancock) having sex with Wilson's first wife, the real Devoto, an extra in the scene, turns to the camera and says "I definitely don't remember this happening". The fourth wall is frequently broken, with Wilson (who also acts as the narrator of the movie) frequently commenting on events as they occur directly to camera, at one point declaring that he's "being postmodern, before it's fashionable".

The actors are often intercut with real contemporary concert footage, including the famous Sex Pistols gig at the Lesser Free Trade Hall.


[edit] Plot

The story opens in the late 1970s in the Pennines, where Tony Wilson, reporting for Granada Television embarks on a hang gliding adventure, despite not having any training. After crashing several times and receiving a "rather unfortunate" injury to his coccyx, he walks away, then turns to the camera, breaking the fourth wall, saying the scene was symbolic of what is to come on many levels. "I don't want to say too much, don't want to spoil it. I'll just say one word: 'Icarus'. If you get it, great. If you don't, that's fine too. But you should probably read more."

Wilson is dissatisfied with his job as a television news reporter, finding stories like the hang-gliding stunt unfulfilling, telling his producer, Charles, "I'm a serious fucking journalist ... I went to Cambridge."

Wilson then attends a concert in June 1976 at Manchester Lesser Free Trade Hall by the Sex Pistols (the Buzzcocks were also to perform but weren't ready). Despite only being attended by 42 people, Wilson cites the concert as a great historical event that would inspire attendees to "go out and perform wondrous deeds".

For his part, Wilson, the host of a music show, So It Goes, decides to move beyond just putting bands on television and get into promoting concerts. With some friends, actor Alan Erasmus and Rob Gretton, Wilson starts a weekly series of punk rock shows at a Manchester club. It is during the opening night, and a performance by a band Gretton manages called Joy Division, that Wilson is caught by his wife, Lindsay, getting fellatio from a woman in the back of the club owner Don Tonay's "nosh van". She then retaliates by having sexual intercourse in a toilet cubicle with the Buzzcocks' Howard Devoto, and is caught by Tony. The real Devoto, portraying a janitor cleaning the bathroom sink, then turns to the camera and says "I definitely don't remember this happening."

Wilson continues in the music business, and with his friends, starts Factory Records, signing Joy Division, led by erratic, brooding lead singer Ian Curtis, as the first band. Showing his dedication, Wilson prepares a record contract for the band, written in his own blood, giving the artists full control over their music.

Irascible producer Martin Hannett is hired to record Joy Division, and though he is difficult to work with – he orders the Joy Division drummer to dismantle his drum kit and reassemble it on the roof of the studio – the results are the work of genius, and soon Joy Division has a hit record.

The success is short-lived, however, when, just before Joy Division is to tour the United States, Ian Curtis (Sean Harris) commits suicide by hanging himself. The news is broken to Wilson as he's preparing to do a news report about a town crier, and the distraught Wilson asks the crier to report on Curtis' death.

Joy Division, however, beats the odds and survives the death of its lead singer, and goes on to rename itself New Order, and record the hit song "Blue Monday".

Factory Records continues with the building of its nightclub, The Haçienda.

Another hit band, the Happy Mondays, are signed, and the beginning of the ecstacy-fuelled rave culture is witnessed.

Steve Coogan as Tony Wilson.

Despite all the success, Factory Records is losing vast amounts of money, both on The Haçienda and on recording its bands. In one scene, Erasmus points out that the label is actually losing 5 pence for every copy of the 12-inch single for "Blue Monday" that is sold because the intricately designed packaging by Peter Saville costs more than what the records are being sold for. Saville is additionally portrayed for having a reputation for missing deadlines, turning in posters and tickets for club dates after the events have already occurred. The Factory partners try to save the label by selling it to London Records, but when it is revealed that Factory doesn't actually hold valid contracts with any of its artists, the deal falls through.

Other troubles include the drug use by the Happy Mondays' Shaun Ryder, who holds the master tapes for the band's troubled fourth studio album hostage until Wilson gives him some money, and tries to shoot Wilson with a pistol. When the master tape is played, it turns out that Ryder, despite being hailed by Wilson as "the greatest poet since Yeats", was unable to write any lyrics, so all the tracks to album, expensively recorded in Barbados, are instrumentals.

Hannett has also become unpredictable, attempting at one time to shoot Wilson with a pistol. He has a falling out with Factory Records over finances, and spirals into decline due to alcohol and drug abuse and massive weight gain, and dies at age 42.

Meanwhile, various aspects of Wilson's life are glossed over, and Wilson takes a moment to acknowledge this, quickly skimming over his divorce from his first wife, Lindsay, his second marriage and children, and his relationship with beauty queen Yvette Livesey. His own drug problems and professional difficulties are also glossed over. "I'm a minor character in my own story," Wilson explains, saying that the stories about the music, as well as Manchester itself, are more important.

[edit] Cast

[edit] Cameos

Several notable people make cameo appearances in the film, including:

[edit] Soundtrack

24 Hour Party People
24 Hour Party People cover
Soundtrack by various artists
Released Flag of the United Kingdom April 9, 2002
Flag of the United States August 20, 2002
Recorded 1976—2002
Genre Punk rock
Label FFRR (UK)
Producer Pete Tong
Professional reviews
Alternate cover
US album cover.
US album cover.

The soundtrack to 24 Hour Party People features songs by artists closely associated with Factory Records who were depicted in the film. These include Happy Mondays, Joy Division (later to become New Order) and The Durutti Column. Manchester band the Buzzcocks are featured, as is The Clash. The album begins with "Anarchy in the U.K." by the Sex Pistols, the band credited in the film with inspiring Factory Records co-founder Tony Wilson to devote himself to promoting music.

New tracks recorded for the album include Joy Division's "New Dawn Fades", from a concert performance by New Order with Moby and Billy Corgan.

[edit] Track list

  1. "Anarchy in the U.K." (Sex Pistols) – 3:33
  2. "24 Hour Party People (Jon Carter Mix)" (Happy Mondays) – 4:30
  3. "Transmission" (Joy Division) – 3:36
  4. "Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)?" (Buzzcocks) – 2:42
  5. "Janie Jones" (The Clash) – 2:06
  6. "New Dawn Fades" (Moby and Billy Corgan with New Order) – 4:52
  7. "Atmosphere" (Joy Division) – 4:09
  8. "Otis" (The Durutti Column) – 4:16
  9. "Voodoo Ray" (A Guy Called Gerald) – 2:43
  10. "Temptation" (New Order) – 5:44
  11. "Loose Fit" (Happy Mondays) – 4:17
  12. "Pacific State" (808 State) – 3:53
  13. "Blue Monday" (New Order) – 7:30
  14. "Move Your Body" (Marshall Jefferson) – 5:15
  15. "She's Lost Control" (Joy Division) – 4:44
  16. "Hallelujah (Club Mix)" (Happy Mondays) – 5:40
  17. "Here To Stay" (New Order) – 4:58
  18. "Love Will Tear Us Apart" (Joy Division) – 3:24

[edit] Other songs in film

Several songs appear in the film but are not on the soundtrack album, including:

[edit] Details

  • A novelization, 24 Hour Party People, based on the screenplay for the film, was written by Tony Wilson and released in 2003 - it is by no means the first example of someone writing a biography of themselves that is not, technically, an autobiography.
  • As a nod from Tony Wilson and Factory Records, the film was given its own Factory catalogue number (FAC 401). The film website is tagged as FAC 433.
  • Tony Wilson states on the commentary on the DVD that he attempted to get some scenes removed from the film (his portrayal as a bad father and cheating on his wife) and he also wanted the gold discs removed from the Factory headquarters set as they never had any on the walls. Wilson also takes strong issue with the scene showing neo-fascists attending a Joy Division concert, as there is no record of neo-fascists ever attending a Joy Division concert nor any record of them causing a riot, as implied by the film.
  • Tony Wilson also had to apologise to Mick Hucknall for the comments made in the film about him ("ginger nut ... Mick Hucknall", and towards the end, "his music's rubbish, and he's a ginger.")
  • In an interview with Q magazine in the April 2003 issue, a reader asked Hucknall his view to the comment about the insult on him at the end. Hucknall retorted that Coogan plays Alan Partridge well because he is Alan Partridge in real life.
  • The Haçienda shown in the film was not the real club. It was a replica built in a Manchester factory space; the original club was closed in 1997 and demolished shortly after, replaced by luxury apartments. [1]
  • The scenes based in the Russell Club were actually filmed in Jilly's Rockworld, a rock nightclub in Manchester, as the original venue had long since been demolished.
  • The opening hang gliding sequence incorporates footage of Coogan with actual footage of the real Wilson's hang gliding story from Granada Television.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

[edit] External links

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