Standard Issue writers are revisiting a film/book/TV series to see if it’s stood the test of time. As a teenager, Claire Jones fell for 1979 drama The Rose. Has its tale of self-destruction and rock ‘n’ roll excess remained in bloom?
What and why: Loosely based on Janis Joplin’s final days, The Rose sees Bette Midler deliver an incredibly moving and honest debut as ill-fated singer Mary Rose ‘The Rose’ Foster. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards and saw Midler scoop a Golden Globe.
Rated or dated: It’s 1986 and I’m watching late-night TV rather than the children I’m being paid to babysit. I stumble upon The Rose and am immediately transported back to the late 1960s as the titular rock star grabs me by the face and propels me into her doomed, whirlwind life.
I was, frankly, never the same again. I already had a penchant for theatrical rock music, which I was trying to keep hidden from a disapproving, God-loving mother. But I lost myself entirely in The Rose’s stardust and sweat and its shimmer of stage lights. I travelled by helicopter and limo and visited ghost-filled football pitches, and even though I hadn’t really begun to live yet, I sensed I knew what dying felt like after it was all over.
“The Rose, with her straining nipples, glistening underarm hair and unruly perm, is a huge ‘in your FACE’ to today’s music industry standards of sexuality and beauty.”
Revisiting it 29 years on, I find a tragic story of excess, artistry and the pressures of an industry that was barely out of infancy. The music, of course, is incredible: a tit-shaking, stadium rock soundtrack of anthems and belting power choruses. I defy anyone not to get forehead prickles at Bette’s performance of When a Man Loves a Woman. Her onstage monologues are similarly awesome.
The Rose, with her straining nipples, glistening underarm hair and unruly perm, is a huge ‘in your FACE’ to today’s music industry standards of sexuality and beauty.
As it’s a tale based on real life, the characters refuse to fall into the usual goodie/baddie roles. And, just like in real life, the film shows perfectly how our destiny can change dependant on the people we surround ourselves with.
Thirty-six years after its release, The Rose remains very much RATED. It led me to dingy rock clubs and stadium concerts and in so doing I met my first true love. It showed me that sex, love, music and power are not things women need permission for. When life tried to tell me to be a “waitress at the banquet of life, and you better look pretty while you’re doing it” The Rose inspired me to stand with my arms up and shout a resounding “NO”.1245 Views
Illustrator and writer from Manchester. Arts student and proud sister, aunty and mum. Owned by a collie. Multi-tasker.