• James Rutherford

'Stop Making Sense': An Exhilarating Concert Film Starring New Wave Pioneers Talking Heads


Movie poster for the 1984 film Stop Making Sense

Stop Making Sense (1984) is a landmark concert film starring New Wave pioneers Talking Heads, shot over 3 nights at Hollywood Pantages Theater in December of 1983. Lead by inimitable frontman David Byrne, the band delivers an exhilarating performance in promotion of their latest studio album "Speaking in Tongues" (1983).


Opening with Byrne alone on stage brandishing a large boom box and intoning "I got a tape I wanna play", the film quickly launches into the band's 1977 single "Psycho Killer". As the songs progress, bandmates Tina Weymouth, Chris Frantz and Jerry Harrison each enter the performance space successively, with stage equipment and additional musicians soon joining in to build out the full ensemble. Over the course of 16 songs (19 songs on VHS and Laserdisc), they bring rhythmic jubilation and Byrne's well-renowned eccentrics to fore—including his now legendary "Large Suit" appearance during "Girlfriend Is Better".


Directed by renowned American filmmaker Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia), Stop Making Sense is a seamless concoction, perfectly balancing Byrne's stage presence, the band's rhythmic stylings and Demme's pristine direction. Major accolades to cinematographer Jordan Cronenweth (Blade Runner) as well, whose steady and immersive camerawork guides the ship from beginning to end. Widely considered one of the finest concert films of all time, it's a wonderfully infectious and all-consuming musical viewing experience.

 

Watch the trailer: