Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thoughts on Pirate Radio

On Friday night, my roomie Christopher and I saw Pirate Radio starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and Kenneth Branagh in Harvard Square.

It is loosely based on the efforts of Britain's Labour Government under Harold Wilson to quell offshore pirate radio in the mid-1960s. The BBC had a monopoly on the public airwaves and played very little rock n' roll despite the fact rock n' roll was one of Britain's greatest exports.

Suffice it to say the music alone was worth the price of admission. Many of the songs featured in the movie I have in my music collection such as "Friday On My Mind" by The Easybeats, "This Guy's In Love With You" by Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass and "Nights In White Satin" by the Moody Blues to name but several.

With rock n' roll comes sex and drugs. Yet I loved the film's libertarian spirit. Particularly in this exchange when Hoffman's character, The Count, attempts to use the f-word on the air. The station owner Quentin (played with great wit and charm by Bill Nighy) tells him to do otherwise. As Quentin puts it succinctly, "Governments loathe people being free."

Branagh plays the government minister given the task of shutting down pirate radio and the ruthless efficiency of his performance evokes John Cleese at his sardonic best. With smug arrogance that makes Obama look modest by comparison, the Minister proclaims, "That's the whole point of being the government. If you don't like something, you simply make it illegal."

The movie was originally released in the United Kingdom last April as The Boat That Rocked. I was shocked to learn it received negative reviews and did poorly at the box office. However, director Richard Curtis (who wrote the screenplay for Four Weddings and a Funeral) cut 20 minutes from the film before its release on this side of the Atlantic. Whatever Curtis did it worked because the audience, myself and Christopher included, loved the film from beginning to end.

I can see Pirate Radio enduring in a manner similar to The Blues Brothers. Both movies introduced a new generation of fans to music from previous generations. The characters in both movies were on a mission from G-d and were trying to elude the heavy hand of government. Of course, both movies are very, very funny. What's not to like?


Download Pirate Radio movie said...

Hi I loved this movie Really it is an entertaining movie. It is full mishmash of musical, comedy, romance and drama.

Download Movies said...

Nice review. what an musical comedy movie.

Movie Downloads said...

Nice movie and thanks for great review.