Last night I had the opportunity to attend a special preview screen of Director Richard Curtis' Pirate Radio which is due out on November 13th with my girlfriend. The screening was organized by the District of Columbia Film Society and was held at the Regal Cinemas at Gallery Place. A few weeks prior I has preview for the movie and was pretty excited for it to come out. Essentially the movie tells the tale of the pirate radio stations in the United Kingdom that took the to ocean in the 1960's after the British Broadcasting Network refused to play pop music. In order to keep this music alive and well these renegades played non-stop rock music for modified fishing vessels 24 hours a day. The films story follows the Karl, the Godson of the Radio Rock Boat's owner as he joins the DJ's as a full time inhabitant on the boat as well as the British government's desperate attempt to shut down pop music in the United Kingdom.
One of the first things you realize watching this film is how incredibly well cast it truly is. In addition to the always great Phillip Seymour Hoffman are Curtis' standby's from his other films Love Actually as well as one of the main players in my second favorite zombie comedy Shaun of the Dead. Everyone is believable and more importantly likely as a renegade rock DJ who loves the music above all else.
The use of music in this film to both introduce characters, lighten a mood, and show why the these men (and one lesbian) did what they did was incredible and I can't wait to buy the soundtrack. The greatest irony in the British Government's attempt to shut down pop music in the UK was the fact that the UK at this time was producing some of the world's best music. The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, as well as numerous others all were barred from being played on their native airways and may not have been as influential on the development of music. Pirate radio such as the Radio Rock displayed in the film had a listenership of nearly 25 million people, almost half of the United Kingdom.
Today pop music is played around the world on thousands of radio stations each day. The availability of these stations can lead us to take for granted the incredible access we have to music. Oftentimes it takes a period of scarcity in order to remind us of the importance of music to our daily lives.