Set in London and Paris, this intriguing fly-on-the-wall documentary, The Blue Black Hussar, follows Adam Ant on his UK comeback tour, recording his 6th album in Paris and hanging out with director Jack Bond and old acquaintances. The opening credits state the film is a story of Adam Ants ‘brave return from exile’ making reference to Ant’s highly publicised problems during the mid-1980s. This film is not, however, framed in a mental health context and rather than dwelling on Ant’s bipolar condition, the story focuses on his current life, career and ‘who he is now,’ while also reflecting on interesting aspects of his past which reveal a truly interesting and charming character.
Jack Bond’s decision to make this documentary was based on their friendship, which gives an intimate, authentic dimension to the film. The absence of voiceover and interview filmmaking style - common to other popular culture documentaries - creates less of a ‘staged’ atmosphere and as an audience we feel we are seeing people in their natural state. Jack Bond uses this style in previous documentaries with other artists (Salvador Dali, Roald Dahl and Werner Herzog) proving effective in revealing a deeper analysis of his candidates.
Although we get the strong sense that Adam is ‘playing up’ in the role as dandified, opinionated rocker seeking to shock and appall, the film reveals intimate moments showing sensitive intelligence. Shopping for bric-a-brac in French backstreet vintage shops, cigar-smoke filled conversations about motorbikes and tipsy chats about past lovers with Bond give insight into Adam’s obsessions, personal interests and hobbies revealing a genuinely charming and funny character.
Known mainly for his musical career as part of the post-punk New Romantic scene, Ant’s success flourished in the early 80s. The film shines light on Adam's varied talents and skills as well as his creative background, studying graphic design in art college, achievements in architecture (even designing his own house!), working with Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood with fashion design. One interesting section shows Adam meeting with sculptor Allen Jones in his home. Jones was Adam’s (at that time named Stuart Goddard) previous tutor in art college and had influence into Adam’s avant-garde and controversial style.
These personalised scenes are chopped with clips from his tour where the audience is brought into grimy underground London caverns where Adam plays songs from his new album. Songs dealing with his troublesome past, song about sex (one explicit song sang with Ant’s two raunchy backing vocalists promises some slightly uncomfortable viewing!) as well as his classic rock and roll style showing that Adam Ant most definitely has not lost his talent. Shot during 2011 viewers can see Adam grow in his journey from playing small club venues, with heckling crowds and boos to the conclusion in Hyde Park in front of thousands of people. One would almost believe his claim of never suffering nerves on stage, as by the films end we see a focused, determined person, with all signs pointing towards a successful and bright future for Adam Ant.
Eddie Harrison, the Scottish Mental Health Film Festival Programmer and one of the associate producers of The Black Blue Hussar, was able to do a brief Q&A after the film and spoke about working with Jack Bond, and the film was warmly received by the many Adam Ant fans in the audience.
This is a film that will appeal to both old and new fans of Adam Ant, viewers interested in pop culture films or anyone who has interest in what Adam Ant is up to now, minus the sob story. Make sure you get a chance to check it out!
Written by Aoife Naughton
The Blue Black Hussar screened in Edinburgh Filmhouse earlier this month and will be screened in Dundee Contemporary Arts Sun 13th Oct at 8.30pm. The screening will be followed by a Q&A.