Hardware is my new favourite film.

Hardware is like an americanised, commercial version of a Psychic TV performance mixed with a bit of Ken Russell, a bit of Frank Miller and a bit of Tetsuo the Iron Man. Although I’m sure it was created as a serious production, in order to enjoy it fully you can’t take it 100% seriously. I think all the best fantasy is laced with a bit of cheese to remind you even if the story is infinitely miserable it is nonetheless created for the purpose of entertainment. This was by no means in line for any oscars; it is a low budget cyber punk film which to my surprise was based on a short 2000ad comic strip – but it did however become a cult hit at the time. Hardware is so bravely generic it would be the perfect film on in the background of another film to better age what you are seeing. It’s a list of all the best aesthetic’s of the time put into a vision of the future that could of only been made in that moment. It feels more like an extended music video acting as a time capsule of what was cool in 1990.

The musical referencing is a bit all over the place: Iggy Pop is a kind of Rock version of Samuel L Jackson’s radio Dj character in Do The Right Thing, Lemmy from Motorhead has a short cameo as a the driver of an amphibious cab and there are flashing shots of Gwar which are interlaced with torture videos apparently as a nod to the aforementioned Psychic TV. However through one of many zoomed in flickery VHS playback shots you can see a short performance by Monte Cazazza, ‘best known for his seminal role in helping shape industrial music’ perhaps another nod to the underground of the time. The soundtrack on the whole is quite bizarre but there is one stand out song by Public Image Limited, the band the sex pistols could of been!

Interestingly one of the characters in the film named Weinburg is an overweight, rank looking peeping Tom that uses a heatseeking telescope to watch the movie’s main characters have sex and a video phone to spout sexual abuse to the main female Jill. I mention this because one of the film’s executive producers was the recently shamed (however not imprisoned) sexual assaulter Harvey Weinstein – is the Wein in Weinburg a deliberate piss take to the gross guy that paid for the film? Hope so!

ANYWAY – The scenery is limited in the film due to an evidently small budget but the low and often red light of the film compliments all the brilliantly OTT close ups on the classically post apocalyptic looking technology. I enjoy the concept that so often appears in these types of films – people depend on technology to keep them alive but in the end it always tries to kill them!

The Wardrobe on the film is again classically dystopian everyone is wearing boiler suits, military jackets and protective sports wear. Using hardwearing clothes created before the film was set suggests a harshness of life and and a scarceness of luxury that perfectly ties in with an exaggerated version of the fashion of the time.

The only evidence of any commerce is the buying and selling of the waste products of the big corporations which appear to be one in the same as the government – again although completely unoriginal, a pretty realistic concept. Jill is an artist, struggling to pay the bills (Standard) and as a result makes art out of the stuff around her. The use of the ready made is obviously not a new thing but I think the way she uses it suggests theres nothing else around TO use – definitely a theme I am keen to add to the story of my work.

 

DANIEL FREEMAN