4
Oct 04

FT TOP 100 FILMS 22: THIS IS SPINAL TAP

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FT TOP 100 FILMS
22: THIS IS SPINAL TAP

Some directors just get lucky. Marti DiBergi could be said to be one of those directors if you consider This Is Spinal Tap to be enough to make a career. If you however also consider his ill-fated attempts to make At The Mountains Of Madness* and a musical version of Heart Of Darkness**, luck might not be his strong point. Wahtever, to a moribund genre stuffed with loving elegies like the Last Waltz and Don’t Look Back DiBergi bought honesty, and a critical eye which both praised the band at its heart whilst opening it up for scrutiny. For what is the story of Spinal Tap, except for one of relationship which would resonate with any viewer.

Are David St Hubbins and Nigel Tufnel the archtypal band married couple. Certainly the conflict that occurs when a woman, Jeanine turns up suggests it might be. Perhapos we like rock music for its pomp and pagentry, and certainly Spinal Tap give you all of that, but it is the people we fall in love with hear. Even DiBergi at his most incomprehending (of course eleven is louder that ten, idiot) manages to tease perosnality out of the band. And they never seem irritated by his presence, whilst the band fall apart in his lens they appreciate his interest as you might tease a puppy dog. For all of the unintentional humour in This Is Spinal Tap you do end up feeling for these shaggy misfits, because you know deep down they are you. In a very real sense for the first time a documentary really managed to capture the ups and downs of actually being in a band. Not for nothing is this film called This Is Spinal Tap. It is.

Many would say this is too small a film to fit into the top 100, that a minor rockumentary of a now almost forgotten footnote in the history of Heavy Metal dates as much as its music. For which I would recomend listening to that music again, there is more understanding of ancient mysticism in Stonehenge than the entire works of Julian Cope. But this film has so many well negotiated conflicts in it, UK vs USA, Man vs Woman, Bass vs Drums. In the battle betwen films and music, Spinal Tap shows they are not necessarily opposites.

*Foiled by spending eight years trying to find mountians sufficiently bonkers enough to fit the bill.

**Eventually abandoned in the can after being sued for the unintentional but undeniable similarities between his song “The Horror, The Horror” to “Tomorrow” from Annie

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