Stop Making Sense turns 25

Next week, Palm Pictures launches a 25th-anniversary Blu-ray release of Stop Making Sense, considered by many to be one of the greatest concert films eve made. Back in 1983, Director Jonathan Demme teamed up with cinematographer Jordan Cronenweth and the Talking Heads to document three nights of shows at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood. And what performances they were.

The new set includes lots of bonus material, I'm told. I don't have a device that plays Blu-ray discs at home, but this is the sort of thing that makes me wish I did. As you may already be able to guess from the sheer volume of fannish posts we do on BB about David Byrne, and about solo work from other former members -- 'round here we do love the band whose name is Talking Heads.

Here's an item at the LA Times, and here's a post at bluraywire about the disc set.

Stop Making Sense (Amazon) Trailer video (YouTube).


  1. I saw Stop Making Sense at the theater when I was in high school and while it didn’t change my life the way that, say, Tron or Weird Science did, I left the theater with a feeling of what I imagine people who touched the teevee screen when Robert Tilton asked them to must have felt when he spoke in tongues and electrons flowed through their fingers.

    @JPW– turn in your badge. Your internets have been revoked for the day.

  2. Having seen both the film (in theatrical) and the tour on which it was based, this is almost enough to get me to buy a Blu-Ray player.

    Yes, it was that good.

  3. David Byrne is so my boyfriend. He just doesn’t know it.

    That doesn’t sound creepy, does it?

    1. He directed Storefront Hitchcock which is fantastic and Heart of Gold with Neil Young which is, in my opinion, OK. I love both Robyn Hitchcock and Neil Young, and all three films are very different from each other.

      He’s also directed a slew of music videos.

  4. I saw a show from this tour in Forest Hills, NY. It was unbelievably great in person – the energy was fantastic.

  5. I have the previous “special” edition of this movie on DVD. I was disappointed when I bought it that the print they used to make the DVD had scratches on it that could’ve been removed digitally. I hope this new version has been “cleaned up” a bit.

    A great concert movie, and I think that the version of “Once in a Lifetime” shot for this film is the best filmed rock song of all time. It’s almost entirely one single camera shot, with no cutaways until almost the end. Breathtaking.

  6. I love the clever technique Jonathan Demme used to make this movie. What was that, you ask? Glad to tell you!

    Demme shot the concert on three nights…one night with the cameras on the left, one with the cameras on the right, and once with them shooting from the center of the theater. He and David Byrne took pains to make sure the three shows looked as visually identical as possible (same songs, same clothes, same lighting changes at the same moments in the songs, etc.) They took extra care to make sure that each song was played at exactly the same tempo each night. (In a couple of shots in the movie you can see Talking Heads drummer Chris Franz holding a headphone speaker to his ear before starting a song. He was listening to a click track to make sure that he kicked off the number at the correct speed).

    All this gave Demme the ability to cut together three performances shot from three different camera angles to give the illusion of one continuous performance. Clever!

  7. We had the “midwest” premiere of the film at our college film fest. Whatever that means. Pals rented out speakers and tweeters and all that to juice up the theater’s sound system. Everyone in a college band was there that night. By the end of the night, usually staid midwesterners were out of their seats and doing a snake around the theater. And then I stupidly smoked dope and watched “Liquid Sky” after that and was terrified …

  8. @Teller uh Rock & Roll Circus? Live at Pompeii? Festival Express? The Concert for Bangladesh?

    I’m so jealous that some of you guys got to see this in theaters. I wasn’t even born yet. Maybe some independent theaters will replay it with the re-release.

  9. Love this film. Just bought it (standard DVD) for my 5 year old.

    And to add to saucerful’s list of great concert films…

    Gimme Shelter

    (Although yes, they’re documentaries and not just a film documenting a performance. But they still count)

  10. Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot just held a screening at the imax on Navy Pier here in Chicago. It was simply awesome to this film on such a huge screen with speakers other than what is built into my TV. The commentary DeRogatis and Kot provided before and after was really quite interesting and made for quite a nice evening.

  11. So this movie I saw in college is now … too old to be in college.

    Shut the fuck up.

    I have to go eat some donuts and cry.

  12. Best staging of a “rock concert” I’ve ever seen – evolving band (for the first half of concert new bandmembers are added for each new song), and starting with a bare stage (“I have something I’d like you hear…” leading into a beatbox version of Psyco Killer) was a fantastic way to start.

    And, of course, the big suit.

    Easily a landmark concert, and concert film – I’ve seen too few to pronounce it “Best Ever”, thoug it is for me and my experience…

    They have an IMAX version? Info PLEASE!

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