Directed by: Richard Curtis (Love Actually)
Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy, Nick Frost, Rhys Ifans, Tom Sturridge, Gemma Arterton
Here we have the Asheville Film Society’s Christmas special: Richard Curtis’ The Boat That Rocked (2009), which played in the U.S. in an abbreviated and re-edited form as Pirate Radio. This is the first—and possibly the only—time that Curtis’ original version has been shown in the area. If you liked Pirate Radio, chances are excellent that you’ll like The Boat That Rocked even better. Not only is it about 20 minutes longer than the version we saw theatrically last year—which, among other things, expands the range of music on the soundtrack—but the film is often edited quite differently and some of the musical choices have been changed. Yes, it’s still the fictionalized story of the shipboard pirate-radio station Radio Caroline that provided rock music banned by the BBC to an eager audience, but it’s a richer film experience in this form.
When I first saw Pirate Radio, I knew it had been cut from its original length. Some things were obvious. Songs that appeared in the credits were nowhere to be heard in the film. The most notable of these turns out to have been the excision of the Small Faces’ “Lazy Sunday.” It’s not merely the loss of the song that hurts (though that’s regretable enough), but Curtis’ handling of it is important. It’s essentially an homage to the Richard Lester Beatles films of the era, A Hard Day’s Night (1964) and Help! (1965). This is a pretty significant aspect of the time.
More telling, though, was the way the film had been altered in the way it was edited. The whole film flows differently—more smoothly—in its original form. As much as I’d loved Pirate Radio, I always felt—and continued to feel every time I saw it—that the shot it freeze frames on at the end was ill-chosen. More, it struck me that the obvious shot to have used was right there for the taking. Well, guess what? That shot was indeed the one Curtis chose for The Boat That Rocked—and that’s what you’ll see here.
Otherwise, my original Pirate Radio review will serve to fill in the rest: www.mountainx.com/movies/review/pirate_radio.
The Asheville Film Society will screen The Boat That Rocked Tuesday, Dec. 21, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge of The Carolina Asheville. Hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther. Hanke is the artistic director of the Asheville Film Society.