Hedwig and the Angry Inch is available now on Criterion Collection Blu-ray.
Hedwig has had a tough life, from growing up gay in East Berlin to sleeping in his mother’s oven. But, despite this challenging start, Hedwig has become a force of nature, a singer/songwriter whose band, The Angry Inch, plays in small restaurants and clubs across America, much to the disgust of many local patrons. Hedwig’s songs have found fame, but not, unfortunately, in Hedwig’s hands. Instead, his ex-lover, Tommy Gnosis, uses Hedwig’s material to further his rock star career. But can Hedwig finally achieve success? And can love trump hate and deceit as Hedwig tracks down the boy who stole his heart and material? Celebrating its 21st anniversary this year, Hedwig and the Angry Inch remains one of the finest pop-rock musicals ever produced, its journey from a gay club to the New York stage and finally to the big screen, a unique and fascinating road trip.
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Hedwig began life in the imaginations of the Broadway star John Cameron Mitchell and the composer and songwriter Stephen Trask during a random meeting on a domestic flight. Their fabulous creation was to be rooted in the drag queen culture of New York’s nightlife and the emergence of a new queer punk rock scene. As they began to form the outline of what would become Hedwig and the Angry Inch, they bravely took their vision to the stage at Squeezebox, a club that embodied gay rock n roll, queer punk and drag. Squeezebox was the perfect place to slowly develop Hedwig’s character as John Cameron Mitchell’s nightly performances began to draw in big crowds, and it wasn’t long before the story of Hedwig and the Angry Inch had become a part of Squeezebox culture. But how do you find the finance to jump from a club to the Broadway stage? Crowdfunding came to the rescue, with Hedwig finally taking to the stage at the Jane Street Theatre, New York, on February 14, 1998.
Hedwig’s dazzling and humourous rock opera would wow crowds and achieve cult status touring the UK, Canada, Brazil and Germany before the curtain finally fell in 2000. But did that mean Hedwig’s journey was over? Of course not! John Cameron Mitchell was already working with the Sundance Institute on a potential movie.
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When Hedwig and the Angry Inch arrived on our screens in 2001, it would be just as wild a ride as it was on stage – a glorious, vibrant and devilishly funny movie that revelled in Hedwig’s Squeezebox birth. John Cameron Mitchell is truly electrifying alongside the original New York cast, and when you add Micheal Pitt as the young rock prodigy Tommy Gnosis and the animation of Emily Hubley, Hedwig and the Angry Inch becomes a unique, colourful and vibrant celebration of queer culture. So, what are you waiting for? Pour yourself a drink, get together with friends and visit Hedwig’s wild world. While it may be twenty-one years old, Hedwig and the Angry Inch is still as fresh, creative and funny as the day it premiered at Squeezebox.