Put A Chain Around My Neck And Lead Me Anywhere: Out Of The Blue (1980)

After falling off the face of the directing earth for most of the 1970's Dennis Hopper stumbled into directing Out of the Blue after its original director dropped out at the last minute.  This matter of happen chance could not have produced better results.  A film that had been banned for years finds itself popping up in three pack DVD collections, truck stop rental booths and perhaps least surprisingly Harmony Korine's top ten film list.  The films is not so much graphic as it is desolate, given that a relatively large amount of the film is set within the punk scene of Canada, while the rest centers around a bird infested junk yard.  It is a film that signifies all the scathing criticism evoked in Easy Rider, yet given that this particular film was made for television it uses subtle acts of deviance as its source of inspiration.   The film is likely unwatchable to many viewers, but those with a knack for the avant-garde and a love for the late auteur Out of the Blue will be quite the cinematic excursion.

The narrative of Out of the Blue is rather disjointed, but this should come as no surprise given the directorial styling of Dennis Hopper, what is for certain is that the film focuses on the tumultuous life of the young Elvis fanatic Cebe (Linda Manz) whose preoccupation with being a punk ruins her ability to excel in school or garner legitimate friendships.  The second factor hindering Cebe's success is her unhealthy attachment to her father Don (Dennis Hopper) who has recently ended a stint in jail for drunkenly crashing into a bus full of children, an accident in which Cebe was present.  To make matters worse, Cebe's mother is a heroin addict who is incapable of standing up to Don and is oblivious to the troubles her daughter is experiencing.  With this set of forces working against her, it is no surprise that she is sexually confused, inclined towards drug use and inextricably attached to the rebellious imagery of punk rock.  Cebe finds solace in hours of drumming away and playing guitar, while constantly quoting her idol Elvis.  The film for the most part only continues to survey the problems evident in Cebe's life, particularly her particularly problematic idealization of her father, who is perpetually drunk, destroys work property and at one point attempts to rape his daughter to assure her heterosexuality.  Through all of this Cebe continues to adhere to her ideals of punk rock rebellion, ultimately leading to an act of self-destruction that kills her self, as well as her mother, claiming that she like Sid Vicious must take away the ones she loves form the cruel and unjust world in which she lives.  Her rebellion burns brightly and quickly, only to fade away in the films closing credits.

This film is brilliant in its study of the decaying of American familial ideals.  Sure, the film was made in Canada, but it is obvious that Hopper had his eyes set on contradicting the emerging conservative ideals of family as they related to America particularly.  Cebe is by no means a heterosexual character, in fact, she often morphs her sexuality for certain situations, donning a dress at one time to please her father, while wearing jackets and button up shirts to assert authority in a male-dominated world of music.  Similarly, the drug addicted nature of both Cebe's parents reflect growing issues of substance abuse that would emerge in the 1980's, an issue that the Reagan administration would approach with little to no success.  Finally, the film deals in great length with problems of poverty and the barriers it produces.  Cebe is arguably homeless, often spending nights sleeping in the wreckage of her father's accident and much of her daytime is spent at her mothers job.  In fact, the only images of Cebe in a home setting involve her playing music, implying that any semblance of a home life immediately results in her desire to escape, making her homelessness both literal and metaphorical.  The structure of nuclear family does not exist in Out of the Blue, and if Hopper's ending is indicative of anything, the possibility of rebuilding such a family is very, very unlikely.  Out of the Blue burns with opposition to anything and everything conservative, and is a faint flame to its predecessor Easy Rider.

Please buy this film, it is a shame that only poorly produced copies exist.  I am certain that if the right company cleaned this film up its critical acclaim would expand.  It is not a matter of curiosity, but necessity that you check this movie out.

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