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Absolute Beginners (film)

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Director  Julien Temple
Initial DVD release  April 15, 2003
Country  United Kingdom
5.5/10 IMDb

3.6/5 Discogs

Genre  Drama, Fantasy, Musical
Language  English
Absolute Beginners (film) movie poster
Release date  18 April 1986 (1986-04-18)
Writer  Richard Burridge, Michael Hamlyn (developer), Terry Johnson (additional dialogue), Colin MacInnes (novel), Don MacPherson, Christopher Wicking
Songs  Absolute Beginners
Cast  Eddie O'Connell (Colin, Photographer / Narrator), Patsy Kensit (Suzette), David Bowie (Vendice Partners), James Fox (Henley of Mayfair, Dressmaker to the Queen), Ray Davies (Arthur, Colin's Dad), Mandy Rice-Davies (Flora)
Similar movies  Diana, Cashback, Scandal, The Day the Earth Caught Fire, Hanover Street, Behemoth, the Sea Monster
Tagline  Welcome to the world of your dreams!

Absolute Beginners is a 1986 British rock musical film adapted from Colin MacInnes' book of the same name about life in late 1950s London. The film was directed by Julien Temple, featured David Bowie and Sade, and Patsy Kensit in one of her first mainstream roles. The film was screened out of competition at the 1986 Cannes Film Festival.


Absolute Beginners (film) movie scenes

Upon release, Absolute Beginners received immense coverage in the British media. At the time, the British film industry was perceived as being on the point of collapse (with the recent failure of the film Revolution). However, the film was panned by critics and became a box office bomb. Some of the criticisms included stylistic anachronisms, such as the mini-skirt and decidedly 1980s music from the likes of The Style Council and Sade, the bowdlerisation of Kensit's character (Crepe Suzette had been depicted as a promiscuous "negrophile" in the book), and the casting of Bowie, who made it a condition of his musical contribution. Although the film was not a success, Bowie's theme song was very popular in the UK and reached number two in the charts.

Absolute Beginners (film) movie scenes

The commercial failure of Absolute Beginners and another film released about the same time, The Mission, led to the collapse of Goldcrest, a major British film studio.

Absolute Beginners (film) movie scenes

Absolute beginners 1986


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The film takes place in 1958, a time in which pop culture is transforming from 1950s jazz and early rock to a new generation on the verge of the 1960s. London is post-World War II, but pre-Beatles/Stones. The storyline incorporates elements of the 1958 Notting Hill race riots.

Absolute Beginners (film) Absolute Beginners 86

Young photographer Colin falls in love with aspiring fashion designer Crepe Suzette but she's only interested in her career. Colin tries to win her affections by taking a crack at the big time himself. Meanwhile, racial tensions heat up in Colin's neighbourhood of London.


Absolute Beginners (film) The Quietus Film Film Features Bowiefest Preview Absolute
  • Patsy Kensit as Crepe Suzette
  • Eddie O'Connell as Colin (the narrator was unnamed in the original novel, so was given the author's first name for the film)
  • David Bowie as Vendice Partners
  • James Fox as Henley of Mayfair
  • Ray Davies as Arthur, Colin's Father
  • Mandy Rice-Davies as Mum
  • Eve Ferret as Big Jill
  • Tony Hippolyte as Mr. Cool
  • Graham Fletcher-Cook as The Wizard
  • Joe McKenna as Fabulous Hoplite
  • Steven Berkoff as The Fanatic
  • Sade Adu as Athene Duncannon
  • Edward Tudor-Pole as Ed the Ted: credited as Tenpole Tudor
  • Bruce Payne as Flikker
  • Alan Freeman as Call Me Cobber
  • Lionel Blair as Harry Charms
  • Paul Rhys as Dean Swift
  • Julian Firth as The Misery Kid
  • Chris Pitt as Baby Boom
  • Slim Gaillard as Party Singer
  • Production

    Absolute Beginners (film) Amazoncom Absolute Beginners VHS Patsy Kensit Eddie OConnell

    $2.5 million of the film's budget came from Orion and £2.5 million from Goldcrest.


    Absolute Beginners (film) Absolute Beginners Bluray DVD Talk Review of the Bluray

    Writing in The New York Times, film critic Caryn James was largely unmoved by the film and remarked upon the "uneveness" of Temple's adaptation, and its "erratic" results. Elsewhere Pauline Kael declared that, despite Temple's bona fides, the musical is "peculiarly unlyrical and ephemeral". Comparing it unfavorably to MacInnes' novel, she wrote: "The film has a glossy immediacy, and you can feel the flash and determination that went into it. What you don't feel is the tormented romanticism that made English adolescents in the '70s swear by the novel the way American kids had earlier sworn by The Catcher in the Rye. Jeremy Allen in The Guardian praised Bowie's theme song but described the film as "an overbudget turkey of huge proportions". Corey K. Creekmur stated in The International Film Musical that although the film "failed to deliver on the critical expectations surrounding it", it remained "a deeply interesting, if flawed, attempt to harness the contemporary musical in the services of politics and social equality".


    Absolute Beginners (film) Artificial Love Absolute Beginners 1986

    Absolute Beginners: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack was concurrently released to promote the film. Aside from the plethora of music from contributing artists, the musical score was composed by Gil Evans. David Bowie's title track, Ray Davies' "Quiet Life" and the Style Council's songs were released as singles. Tracks 11-18 were exclusive to the CD version.

    Track listing

    1. "Absolute Beginners" — David Bowie - 8:03
    2. "Killer Blow" — Sade - 4:37
    3. "Have You Ever Had It Blue?" — The Style Council - 5:37
    4. "Quiet Life" — Ray Davies - 2:56
    5. "Va Va Voom" — Gil Evans - 3:26
    6. "That's Motivation" — David Bowie - 4:14
    7. "Having It All" — Eighth Wonder featuring Patsy Kensit - 3:08
    8. "Rodrigo Bay" — Working Week - 3:32
    9. "Selling Out" — Slim Gaillard - 3:36
    10. "Riot City" — Jerry Dammers - 8:29
    11. "Boogie Stop Shuffle (Rough And The Smooth)" — Gil Evans - 3:00
    12. "Ted Ain't Ded" — Tenpole Tudor - 2:35
    13. "Volare (Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu)" — David Bowie - 3:13
    14. "Napoli" — Clive Langer - 4:08
    15. "Little Cat (You've Never Had It So Good)" — Jonas - 2:19
    16. "Better Git It In Your Soul (The Hot And The Cool)" — Gil Evans - 1:49
    17. "So What? (Lyric Version)" — Smiley Culture - 4:18
    18. "Absolute Beginners (Refrain)" — Gil Evans - 1:41

    A double length cassette (Virgin TCVD 2514) was also released that featured four more tracks: B6 and B8-B10.

    Track listing:

    Side A
    1. "Absolute Beginners", David Bowie (Bowie)
    2. "Killer Blow", Sade (Sade Adu, Simon Booth, Larry Stabbins)
    3. "Have You Ever Had It Blue?", The Style Council (Paul Weller, arranged by David Bedford)
    4. "Quiet Life", Ray Davies (Davies)
    5. "Va Va Voom", Gil Evans (Evans)
    6. "That's Motivation", David Bowie (Bowie)
    7. "Having It All", Eighth Wonder featuring Patsy Kensit (Geoff Beauchamp, Alex Godson, Kensit)
    8. "Rodrigo Bay", Working Week (Booth, Stabbins)
    9. "Selling Out", Slim Gaillard (Gaillard, Tot Taylor, Julien Temple)
    10. "Riot City", Jerry Dammers (Dammers)
    Side B
    1. "Boogie Stop Shuffle (Rough And The Smooth)", Gil Evans (Charles Mingus)
    2. "Ted Ain't Ded", Tenpole Tudor (Temple, Edward Tudor-Pole)
    3. "Volare (Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu)", David Bowie (Franco Migliacci, Domenico Modugno)
    4. "Napoli", Clive Langer (Langer, Temple)
    5. "Little Cat (You've Never Had It So Good)", Jonas (24) (Nick Lowe)
    6. "Absolute Beginners (Slight Refrain)", Gil Evans (Bowie)
    7. "Better Git It In Your Soul (The Hot And The Cool)", Gil Evans (Mingus)
    8. "Landlords And Tenants", Laurel Aitken (Aitken)
    9. "Santa Lucia", Ekow Abban (Abban)
    10. "Cool Napoli", Gil Evans (Langer, Temple)
    11. "So What? (Lyric Version)", Smiley Culture (Culture, Miles Davis)
    12. "Absolute Beginners (Refrain)", Gil Evans (Bowie)


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