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Ken Russell

Tommy is a film that aims for sensory overload and achieves it with bells on. The Who’s legendary rock opera about a deaf, dumb and blind pinball player who becomes a messianic figure found its perfect director in Ken Russell. 

"Aims for sensory overload and achieves it with bells on."

Easily British cinema’s most flamboyant filmmaker, Russell was a Catholic convert with a penchant for religious imagery, and a music obsessive who had already made a half dozen films about famous composers. His masterstroke was to truly think of Tommy as an opera. He had Pete Townsend rewrite and greatly improve his original arrangements and insisted that Tommy be through-composed with no spoken dialogue.

With mind-blowing imagery, great lead performances by Roger Daltry, Ann-Margret and Oliver Reed, and guest appearances by Elton John, Tina Turner and Eric Clapton, if ever a film demanded to be seen on a big screen with the sound turned up to eleven, this is it. 

Tommy will be screening with English subtitles, closed captions for D/deaf and hard of hearing audiences.


 Screening as part of BFI Musicals! The Greatest Show on Screen, a UK-wide film season supported by National Lottery, BFI Film Audience Network and ICO.