When 24 Hour Party People was released in 2002, the zeitgeist of cool was in the throes of an exhilarating post-punk revival. Interpol was nicking from Joy Division, The Rapture sounded for everything like Gang of Four, Mick Jones of The Clash was producing The Libertines…we could go on.
So not only had the Manchester music scene that the film documented already defined a generation – its dramatization fit squarely into yet another generation-defining moment. Which may just confirm why it was all so bloody important…actually, monumental. But 24 Hour Party People, directed by the exalted filmmaker Michael Winterbottom (fresh off his masterpiece Welcome to Sarajevo), was no solemn, self-important, navel-gazer of a music flick. Rather, it focused on what an absolute fookin’ riot it all was – the guns, the drugs, the cashflow problems, the astonishing rise of rave.
And now it’s getting the extravagant package it has always meant to deserve. Indeed, this June, Icon Film Distribution will release a sprawling Blu-ray/DVD collector’s edition of the film.
In it, of course, Steve Coogan geniusly plays Tony Wilson, founder of Factory Records (and the chap who signed Joy Division), just the way you’d always hoped Wilson would be: haphazardly brilliant, bitingly sardonic, pretentiously tossing off quotes from obscure philosophers, and really, sincerely giving a damn about the music. All around him in the then bleak Northern city of Manchester, the post-punk scene explodes with soon-to-be legendary bands like The Buzzcocks, The Fall, Magazine, Joy Division, New Order, and eventually Happy Mondays and the absolutely depraved rave culture galvanizing at the equally legendary Hacienda nightclub.
Fittingly, at one point God appears to Wilson and snarks to him, “Pity you didn’t sign The Smiths.” At which point the latter turns to members of the Mondays and says of the Almighty: “He looked like me.”
And you can be pretty sure that actually happened.
24 Hour Party People collector’s edition Blu-Ray and DVD will be released June 3 by Icon Film Distribution, and will feature audio commentary by Tony Wilson and Steve Coogan, 24 deleted scenes, interviews with Happy Mondays and Factory graphic designer Peter Saville, as well as commentary from New Order bassist Peter Hook.