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Performance
     

Performance

Director: Donald Cammell, Nicolas Roeg, James Fox, Mick Jagger

Cast: Donald Cammell, Nicolas Roeg, James Fox, Mick Jagger

 

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Even in an era of cinematic experimentation, Performance stands out as a visually daring major-studio film that deals with questions of sanity and identity rarely touched on in mainstream filmmaking. The elements of Performance certainly looked attractive to studio executives at Warner Bros. -- a gangster on the lam hides out in the home of a reclusive

Overview

Even in an era of cinematic experimentation, Performance stands out as a visually daring major-studio film that deals with questions of sanity and identity rarely touched on in mainstream filmmaking. The elements of Performance certainly looked attractive to studio executives at Warner Bros. -- a gangster on the lam hides out in the home of a reclusive rock star -- especially since that musician was being played by Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones. But co-directors Nicolas Roeg (who also photographed) and Donald Cammell (who wrote the screenplay) had much more in mind than a walk on the wild side of swinging London. Chas (James Fox) is a sadistic thug who gains our sympathies only because men even crueler than he are out to kill him. After Chas arrives at the mansion occupied by Turner (Jagger) and his female companions Pherber (Anita Pallenberg) and Lucy (Michele Breton), what looks like a decadent idyll fueled by drugs and group sex turns into a series of mind games in which Turner challenges Chas' sexual preference and core identity. Even the film's one musical number, "Memo From Turner," is a William Burroughs-like monologue in which Turner fantasizes taking over Chas' role as a mobster, spewing insults to his colleagues. The film's cult status has been fueled by subsequent films of its co-directors (for Roeg, Walkabout, The Man Who Fell to Earth, and Don't Look Now; for Cammell, White of the Eye), which explored similar themes employing the same kind of jagged editing and striking visuals.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Steve Futterman
If Hollywood honchos had visions of Performance turning out as some hip version of an Elvis film, they certainly weren’t in sync with either the film’s star or its creators. What co-directors Nicolas Roeg and Donald Camell actually brought to the screen was a fun-house reflection of the tail end of the twisted '60s -- a self-consciously cinematic stew steeped in New Wave film sensibilities, rock 'n' roll decadence, and deliberate narrative ambiguity. Viva Las Vegas this wasn’t. Camell’s screenplay brings together Turner, a rock-star-in-seclusion, and Chas, a vicious criminal on the run. Drawn into Turner’s den of iniquity, Chas experiences a mind-altering transfer of personality with the debauched pop deity. Casting Rolling Stones front man Mick Jagger as Turner and familiar actress-cum-Stones girlfriend Anita Pallenberg (who dated both Brian Jones and Keith Richards) as one of his hedonistic hangers-on, Roeg and Camell blurred the line separating their fiction from perceived reality. James Fox, employed against his usual upper-crust type, makes a lingering impression as Chas, the alpha thug whose arrival upends, and is upended by, Turner's idyll. What could have become simply a campy product of its time has aged -- thanks to Roeg’s striking cinematography and Jagger’s charismatic performance -- into a still audacious masterpiece. That contemporary rock 'n' roll remains as besotted with drugs, sex, and criminal activity as it was nearly 40 years ago hurts this film not a bit. For Roeg, Performance remains an early touchstone in a significant film career. As for Jagger, he has never been more effective on screen.
All Movie Guide - Tom Wiener
If Michelangelo Antonioni put one foot in the waters of late-'60s London with Blow-up, Nicolas Roeg and Donald Cammell dove right into the deep end of the pool, emerging with this rock & roll version of Ingmar Bergman's Persona (consider the film's production number, "Memo From Turner," the first example of gangsta rap). The delineation between the contributions of the co-directors has been a subject of ongoing critical debate for over 30 years. Because Roeg served as cinematographer (after a brilliant career as a director of photography on such films as Petulia and Far From the Madding Crowd) and Cammell wrote the original script, it was originally assumed that film's "ideas" were Cammell's and the "visuals" were Roeg's. Then, when Roeg went on to have a more prolific career than Cammell (who directed only three more films before his 1996 suicide), credit for more than just Performance's stunning visuals began to tilt to Roeg. But, as Roeg made clear in the 1998 documentary Donald Cammell: The Ultimate Performance, the questions of identity, sexual and otherwise, that Performance dealt with were lifelong concerns of Cammell. Performance is no simple wallow in the mutually decadent lifestyles of criminals and musicians, but an honest attempt to understand the roles we play every day.

Product Details

Release Date:
02/13/2007
UPC:
0085391116875
Original Release:
1970
Rating:
R
Source:
Warner Home Video
Region Code:
1
Time:
1:45:00

Special Features

New featurette Influence and Controversy; Vintage featurette Memo From Turner; Theatrical trailer

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
James Fox Chas Devlin
Mick Jagger Turner
Anita Pallenberg Pherber
Michele Breton Lucy
Ann Sidney Dana
John Bindon Moody
Stanley Meadows Rosebloom
Allan Cuthbertson Lawyer
Johnny Shannon Harry Flowers
Anthony Valentine Joey Maddocks
John Sterland Chauffeur
Kenneth Colley Tony Farrell

Technical Credits
Donald Cammell Director,Screenwriter
Nicolas Roeg Director,Cinematographer
John Clark Art Director
Linda de Vetta Makeup
Antony Gibbs Editor
Sandy Lieberson Producer
Robert Lynn Production Manager
Frank Mazzola Editor
Michael Molloy Camera Operator
Randy Newman Musical Direction/Supervision
Jack Nitzsche Score Composer
Paul Rabiger Makeup
Brian Smedley-Aston Editor
Peter Young Set Decoration/Design

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Performance
1. Sex on Wheels [2:33]
2. Chas About His Business [5:49]
3. Addressed Remarks [3:13]
4. Acid Bath, Close Shave [3:06]
5. Keep Personal Relations Out [2:58]
6. Jack the Lad [5:36]
7. The Drop on Chas [2:29]
8. Turnabout [3:25]
9. Noose for a Mad Dog [3:55]
10. Housing Tip [3:41]
11. 81 Powis Square [2:27]
12. Welcoming a Juggler [3:58]
13. Her Turn With Turner [3:06]
14. Three in a Bath [3:10]
15. What a Freak Show [2:39]
16. Determined to Fit In [6:03]
17. Mutually Afraid [4:42]
18. Uncle Needs a Photo [2:05]
19. Time for a Change [3:18]
20. Black, White and Scarred [3:03]
21. Lone Ranger [3:23]
22. Inside Chas's Head [3:59]
23. Male/Female Man [5:21]
24. Hound Dog [2:46]
25. Memo From T [3:58]
26. Appointed Time [3:04]
27. Lying With Lucy [4:34]
28. Bullet's Mark [3:35]
29. Gone to Persia [1:47]
30. End Credits [1:35]

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