On Re-Watching The Commitments

I know it’s odd for me to be commenting on a movie here on my book blog, but The Commitments started off as a great book by Roddy Doyle. I have to say, though, that my first exposure to Roddy Doyle was through the movie, The Commitments. And, though not all book to movie adaptations work, this one is epic.

If you haven’t seen it, go watch it. The casting is amazing — the voices on these guy are phenomenal, and the music alone makes this a movie worth watching. It’s the story of a bunch of down-and-out Dubliners who decide to put a band together. They swear, they fight, their first gig is at the church hall for an anti drug rally. But they play music and they sing in between it all. It really is fantastic.

 

Watching this movie again has brought back some great memories. The Commitments came out in 1991 when I was broke and at university. I was fortunate enough to live in the Kitsalino area of Vancouver and we had this great, ancient theatre called, The Hollywood. You could tell that it had once been grand, with it’s huge marquis and red velvet seats. The seats, however, appeared to be original and, at the time, the velvet had been worn down, and you had to choose your seat wisely or have a spring in your leg the whole time.

However, I lived in walking distance to this place and they had the best deals on movies. I’m trying to remember now, but there was always a double feature starting at 7pm, which changed every week and it was $5 for both movies — and they even had a $2 Tuesday. These were films that had had their first runs in the mainstream theatres already, before they made their way to the B-runs. It was great.

 

One of my most vivid memories of going to this theatre was going to see The Commitments with a family friend of ours named Steve. Steve was a few years older than me, about 6’6″, and looked like someone you didn’t want to cross in a dark alley. We went to the theatre and sat at the back of the balcony — more legroom there. And, once the movie started, Steve lit up a cigarette. The theatre wasn’t crowded that night, but still, we were in a theatre. His one concession to me was to move to the side so that the smoke didn’t interfere with the film as we were right underneath the projection booth.

 

As it turned out, nothing happened and we enjoyed a fantastic movie — the music, swearing, and fighting was up both of our allies. The music really is phenomenal. I bought the CD at the time and still play it from time to time.

Here’s Mustang Sally from the movie:

 

And, after seeing this movie, I went in search of Roddy Doyle books and read all that I could get my hands on, The movie introduced me to a great author I might not otherwise have known about. I’ve enjoyed Roddy Doyle’s books for years — he writes for adults and children and works to promote literacy in Ireland. He’s got a great sense of humour and an engaging writing style. Could be time for me to pick up a new Roddy Doyle book and see what he’s been up to lately.

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