Movie Soundtracks: Breaking Glass

Posted: September 24, 2014 in New Wave, Post-Punk, Soundtracks
Tags: , , , ,

I was recently asked to make a list of 15 movies that had a lasting impact on me. At first I thought this would be an impossible task but after mulling it over, I decided to take five minutes and write down the first movies that came to mind. The British film Breaking Glass was one of those movies, not because it was a great film but because it really laid the foundation for my appreciation of punk and new wave music. I remember seeing it as a kid in the early ‘80s (for some reason it was played religiously on HBO) and it really made an impression on me – the hard-driving music, the fashion, and the anti-establishment message was unlike anything I’d seen or heard before.

Released in 1980, Breaking Glass is the familiar story of a band (Breaking Glass) getting discovered in a seedy bar, rising to fame, and then succumbing to the pitfalls of money and stardom. It’s also a tale about the underbelly of the music industry and the ease of how the most artistically earnest of individuals can sell out. The backdrop of high unemployment, industrial strikes, and general discontent only add to the bleak atmosphere of film. The songs for the soundtrack (produced by Tony Visconti) were written by Hazel O’Connor, who also plays the lead singer, making it the first time a female both wrote and performed a film’s entire soundtrack. The album, which was the basis for the soundtrack, went double platinum and reached #5 in the UK. It also produced numerous hit singles. The soundtrack, with its urgent and energetic sound, impressively holds up after all these years.

The song “Big Brother” has O’Connor speaking out about the perils of conforming to a soulless society. The clip below has stills of the movie, which show O’Connor looking very much like a character out of Blade Runner.


“Eighth Day” is the final song performed in the film. It finds O’Connor dressed in a futuristic costume (inspired by Fritz Lang’s Metropolis) cautioning of a time when machines and technology will rule the world.



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