Yesterday I was fortunate to have the chance to see The Blueblack Hussar at Chapter Arts Centre, with a brilliant talk by the “posh-bruiser” himself (his words, not mine!) Jack Bond afterwards.
I’d won a pair of tickets to Chapter the night before at Ignite Cardiff, and after a quick glance on the website and a lovely chat with the Centre’s helpful box office, I was all set to share my Friday evening with Adam Ant, a fiery director and of course, the stunning cinema.
The Blueblack Hussar is a documentary style film following Adam through his determined, methodical and let’s face it, intriguing climb back to fame. His history tells its own tale, and Bond doesn’t feel the need to reiterate it whatsoever. A brave choice, but in my opinion, a wise one. We all know the ins and outs of Adam’s decline, his battle with mental illness, his wacky and weird ways. But what we don’t know – at least, what I didn’t know – was who is the man that he has now become?
I’d think of Adam Ant, and I’d think of the iconic white stripe, Price Charming, the Napoleon jacket… well, the stripe is gone, but the jacket still remains! One of the first shots of Adam is of him strutting through the streets of London, pirate hat on, jacket proudly worn with a fag hanging out of his mouth. His flamboyant style is still there, as is his chaotic personality. He’s expressive and self-assured – almost to the point of arrogance. You don’t see a man sectioned under the mental health act three times. You see the eighties pop icon, albeit it, one that has become lost along the way.
As the film progresses, Bond follows Adam through gritty small-time gigs, comical photo shoots, awkward interviews and a sudden departure to Paris. Adam’s personality switches from brash and angry to soft and reflective. Never alone, he’s always closely tailed by his new, young and “colourful” band – his faithful followers. On stage they are as one, but off set Adam very much comes across as a lone ranger. The whole time I was watching it, I just couldn’t quite figure him out. I didn’t really know whether I liked him or not – or whether I was even meant to. His erratic personality threw me – who really was he?
One thing that was evident was the relationship between Adam and Jack. Jack is just the king of cool – you’d have to be mad not to be absolutely enthralled by him. Two confident and assertive personalities, they just seemed to click. Jack has a “take no shit” approach, and I can just imagine him whipping Adam into shape. This notion was confirmed in the Q & A with Jack afterwards – he had a tale or two to tell about the many occasions where he had to take his “posh bruiser” approach with the iconic singer – well, he didn’t get the nickname for nothing!
Now and again, there were sudden glimpses of the real man underneath. When the pair returned from Paris, Adam brought back piles of quirky trinkets. The way he spoke about them, showing them off to Jack, was really quite lovely. With a big smile on his face, he just seemed so excited by these tiny goods. And so proud – proud to show them off, and proud he had found them.
The film builds up flicking between performances and Adam’s everyday goings on – with the climax being a performance at Hyde Park. And this is the moment. The moment your heart falls into your stomach, and all the hairs on your arms stand on edge. The way Bond shoots it is so poignant – so simple, so effective. The camera follows Adam as he takes the long walk backstage. The facade is gone – you can feel how much this means to him. After doing so many small time, grotty, penniless gigs, you feel so proud and happy for him. As Adam reaches the side of the stage, he crosses his chest, takes a deep breath and walks on stage. And there, the film cuts.
It was a beautiful moment to cut, and as Bond described afterwards portrayed the bird finally taking flight – it was up to us where that destination was.
This was a beautiful, fascinating film, made even better by the wonderful talk by Jack afterwards. Fan of Adam or not, I would recommend it to anyone. Adam is a captivating individual, not afraid to take a chance and keep his character alive. After all, ridicule is nothing to be scared of.