Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Sometimes the symbolism is TOO FREAKING OBVIOUS.  But I can't consider the content of this 1975 rock opera a security leak.  Why?  EVERYONE INVOLVED IN MAKING THIS MOVIE WAS 100% HUMAN.  But here goes the review anyway:

PLOT SUMMARY:  At the beginning of the film, Captain and Mrs. Walker conceive their only offspring, Tommy, in a pool beneath a waterfall.  Shaved Monkey drama interrupts their happy lives when Captain Walker's fighter plane goes down in flames.  Mrs. Walker -- only by reading the credits do you learn her first name, Nora -- gives birth to Tommy on the day the Allies declare victory.  Nora misses her husband badly and brings Tommy up to revere the memory of the father he never met.  (This is always a brutal temptation faced by landfish -- to stick to their own kind and not mix with the fully human.  CAN YOU BLAME THEM?)

When her son is about 5, she finally takes up with someone new, a man named Frank who they meet at a holiday camp; Tommy spends his holiday watching Frank and Nora cozying up to each other, and when vacation is over, Frank goes home with them to stay. 

Imagine Tommy's delight when his dad -- his REAL dad, Captain Walker -- steps into his bedroom one night as Tommy is settling in to sleep.  Tommy climbs out of bed and follows him, just in time to see him murdered by Frank and Nora.  Tommy...Well, he isn't really the same after that.  But following Frank and Nora's instructions to the letter -- and what, after all, is a "Tommy" but a brave, obedient British soldier? -- he tells nobody and keeps everything entirely to himself.  For years and years.  

In fact, he becomes so closed off that Nora and Frank are rather concerned about his well-being.  Then, in a final confrontation about his secretive nature, Nora blasts him out of his shell once and for all.  Tommy, freed at last, endures a minor detour into the gaudy, tinpot world of Naked Ape status-seeking, then finally GETS REAL and swims all the way home to the mountain pool where his life began.


>> In all I have read, seen and heard about this film, I have never known anyone to point out the totally freaking obvious:  Tommy, raised to be human, eventually meets his destiny by getting in touch with his inner Salmon.

>> There are many other clues to support this conceit in the film.  For one:  Nora is clearly dating OUTSIDE HER SPECIES when she takes up with good old Frank.

>> We never hear where Captain Walker was keeping himself all those years after his plane went down.  When he finally shows up again, he has a scar on his face but also a spanking-new RAF uniform.  The answer is clear to see -- he's been in the sea all this time -- and it's especially obvious if, like you and I, the viewer understands the secrets of piscatorial dry cleaning. 

>> Through all the years he's keeping his secrets to himself, Tommy hallucinates constantly about things that would really only have meaning to his mother and father -- like the silver balls that flow in a river through his mind, just like the ones that eddied around Nora's unconscious body after she passed out on the floor of the munitions factory, having just learned that Captain Walker's plane was missing.  Those balls eventually become an important part of his real life.  IF THAT'S NOT FISH CONSCIOUSNESS, WHAT IS?  I ask you!

>> How does Tommy infuriate his mother enough to make her force the issue?  By staring in the mirror hour after hour, day after day.  What does the mirror do for Tommy?  It's OBVIOUSLY a substitute for the pool of water he has been seeking all his life.  (I'm not sure if she's angry because all her attempts to cover up his fish identity are being undermined, or what.)  How does she finally end the stalemate?  She knocks him right through the mirror...and out of the house...into a REAL pool of water. TOMMY IS FREE.  HOW OBVIOUS IS THAT?

>> At one point, Tommy informs the world that "If I told you what it takes to reach the highest high/You'd laugh and say nothing's that simple!"  But he never really spells out for us what he means.  He leads his followers up the same goofy primrose path he travelled himself, as a matter of fact -- he even makes them play pinball, as if that had anything to do with anything.  His followers quickly catch on that this is getting them nowhere and they stage a revolt.  They never do figure out the secret.  BECAUSE HE IS THE ONLY ONE WHO ENDS UP IN THE WATER, HE IS THE ONLY ONE WHO REACHES FREEDOM. 

Aren't you glad you don't have to go through all that nonsense?   The years of not fitting in -- the disability -- the doctors -- the faith-healers. 

Just take that long high dive into the water and YOU WILL BE FREE.


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