Live Transmission: Control and the Televised Performance Scene

Live Transmission: Control and the Televised Performance Scene

A performance scene is a critical component of the music biopic, establishing links between the past and present, and between viewers and their memories of a particular band or (more often than not deceased) artist. Performances-whether revered or criticized-highlight memorable moments of a musical career and can motivate and structure the narrative of a music biopic. Gary R. Edgerton cites television as an especially influential medium for delivering music performances to viewers, arguing that it has “transformed the way tens of millions of viewers think about historical figures and events” through numerous nonfictional and fictional portrayals (1). This essay considers the televised performance of “Transmission” by Joy Division in Anton Corbijn’s Control (2007) to highlight the ways in which the performance scene, as a signature event in the band’s popular memory, bridges the past and present by integrating aspects of the original televised performances into contemporary popular culture. Moreover, the performance of “Transmission” marks a critical point in Joy Division’s career. The band generates attention and popularity through the exposure granted by the power of television-an increasingly prominent medium in the promotion of popular music at the time of the original performances. Corbijn’s representation of the “Transmission” performance advances both the represented and popular historic narrative of the band, illustrating the significant contribution of both television and film to the collective and popular history and memory of Joy Division.

Control recalls the life of the late Ian Curtis (Sam Riley), from his time as a young David Bowie fan and student in Maccles field, England, to his years as the lead singer of Joy Division. The film ends with Curtis’s suicide on May 18, 1980, succeeding emotional hardships stemming from his difficulties in balancing his marriage to Deborah Woodruff (Samantha Morton), and time spent on the road with his band and girlfriend, Annik Honoré (Alexandra Maria Lara). Control is Corbijn’s first feature film, following a directorial career that includes many music videos, such as Nirvana’s “Heart-Shaped Box” (1993), multiple videos for Depeche Mode (e.g. “Personal Jesus” in 1989 and “In Your Room” in 1994), and the video for Joy Division’s “Atmosphere” (1988 reissue). Corbijn’s relationship to Joy Division precedes his direction of “Atmosphere,” as he photographed the band in the late 1970s. As Corbijn notes in a recent interview, “I had moved to England to be close to that music at the time, and I was very into Joy Division. I worked with them, took pictures of them that became synonymous with their music, and I was forever linked” (Tewksbury). The framing, composition and aesthetics of the places and spaces seen and heard in Control are often reflective of Corbijn’s iconic black-and-white images from that time.

Corbijn’s transition from photographing Joy Division to directing a feature film about the band is important to consider within the context of the music biopic. Certainly, Corbijn’s extensive role as a shaper of Joy Division’s mediated image factors into the way in which Control‘s aesthetics and narrative are represented. The high-contrast black and white scenes in Control recall this relationship between Corbijn and Joy Division-that of the mediator and the mediated-emphasizing the camera’s place in representing, re-imagining, and transmitting music history. It seems fitting then, that Corbijn should choose to amalgamate two memorable live televised performances into his “Transmission” scene: the September 1978 performance of “Shadowplay” on Tony Wilson’s Granada Reports, and the September 1979 performance of “Transmission,” Unknown Pleasure‘s non-album single, on BBC2s Something Else. “Transmission” is the only full-length, complete performance in the film, recorded and played in actuality by Riley and the other actors who play the band.

TV Documentary:

Television documentary is creative treatment of actuality. A wider meaning is factual film.Television documentaries are the kind of programmes through which a research-based topic (document) is eventually brought on the screen in visual form. The people, locations and events represent real life situations.
Documentaries are non-fictional format that attract reason and logic, hence useful for giving serious information and knowledge. Documentaries have strong academic touch and can be used as a reference material. Making of a documentary is a time consuming job. Also the viewing requires a certain level of sophistication on the part of the audiences.
Some critics think that capturing absolute “reality” on video documentary is not possible. This is because during production of documentary some interviews and actions have to be “arranged” before recording. Thus the spirit of “reality” is often lost.
Documentaries can be prepared on various topics such as:
  • News and current affairs
  • Historical events and sites.
  • Social, political and economic issues and public nuisance
  • Ideas
  • Personalities.

Private T.V Channel:

NTM, Network Television Mraketing is a Private T.V Company which transmits its programmes through the transmitters of STN, (Shalimar Television Network). Most of its programmes, are entertainment oriented. It telecasts T.V dramas, music programmes, shows, english programmes, English, Urdu, Punjabi, Pushto or Sindi feature films.
One rational to distinguish the programmes from one another is based on the format or presentation style of programmes. Thus we talk about dramas in contrast to musical programmes and separate discussion programmes from documentaries, as well as, talks from stage shows. There are three broad approaches to classify television programmes:
i)              From production format point of view: Dramas, pannel discussion and documentaries are different formats of programmes because their presentation and treatment style differ from each other.
ii)            From contents point of view, contents are based on the overall aim of the programme. Contents reflect whether a particualr programme is meant to
provide entertainment, information or education. Consequently the programmes are called entertainment programmes or educational programmes etc.
iii)           From the audience/ viewers/clientele point of view. This type of programme classification is quite common and in wide practice in the broadcasting organizations and literature. Under this type of classification programmes are prepared keeping the specific sub-groups of audience in view. The audiences may be children, women, students, disabled persons or the youth.
Television programmes are made in different formats and presentation styles. Talk-shows, music and dramas are some of the popular formats. Choice and selection of programme format is related to certain factors such as the programme contents, the theme, objectives, the audience, and broadcast. Every programme, whether intended to give informaton, education or entertainment, is produced under some established and acceptable format.
Television is an experimental medium, always keenly interested in adapting new production styles. Over the years a variety of programme presentation styles

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