I remember seeing it when I was little, and just my parents little comments to it. “It’s Janis Joplin, but it’s not Janis. She was into girls partially too, and she didn’t die on stage”.
So my wife (there are four of us, Saga, Almira and Annelie, in the spiritual sense of the word we are so close friends that we are “married”, so there, you have the final explanation and I won’t have to give it you again ;D) Almira gave me The Rose for my birthday. She also gave me “Ladies night- Enrique Iglesias, Ricky Martin and Tom Jones in concert”, perhaps not the more serious part of the present… or it might be brilliant, I shall see 😉
But I remember liking the film, even as a little girl. So I sat down and watched it properly again. And it was a rediscovery for sure! I just remembered snippets but looking at the film as a whole, they made an entirely new impression. OK, so you’re thinking; “Bette Midler, stage alias ‘The divine miss M’ as a rock chick? Come on! Sounds like a comedy” But you have too keep in mind that this was actually her breakthrough. And in 1979, there was still a connection to the rock scene, with Janis Joplin dying only 9 years earlier. I still believe the only reason clean cut synth pop took over was the fact that people started being afraid of dying, and the rock scene with Morrison, Hendrix and Joplin all burning out within only a couple of years from eachother certainly mirrored people’s own mortality.
The only reason the film doesn’t portray Janis Joplin flat out is that Bette felt it was disrespectful and gave her own suggestions to script alterations. And you believe it. Every single second of that self destructive, made up Mary Rose Foster’s life. The love for the musicians, the tour culture of the 70’s, the “tour family” vibe. Rose’s own struggles, desire to perform, kicking habits, hair waving, husky voice, the stage moves, the backstage moves, the defiance, the hairy armpits, the glitter, the glam, the non-glam, the alcohol, the piles of money, the giant handbag with everything in it, and ultimately, that shoot-up. While Oliver Stone didn’t excactly create a character you’d sympathize with when Jim Morrison fell off his wagon or threw his tantrums (and according to band mates, while Jim always was a little crazy, he wasn’t quite the sociopath the film portrayed. No one really can be, bar a few exceptions in this world. He was human) you can see everything leading up to her self-destructive path. You even go “heck, I’d do it too, right there, if all that happened to me”. Director Mark Rydell (and Bette) really did a good job, there.
The last heart wrenching scenes sees the co-actors spontaniously applauding performances (not scripted), they just couldn’t help themselves. And my tears just start running. It’s amazing to see The Rose and discover it again after all these years. A must-see if you’re a musician and into the 70’s rock scene or just interested in digging there for inspiration!
Two piano playing thumbs up!