I’ve seen this movie a few times, and I even saw the Broadway run three times, with three different Hedwigs (Michael C Hall was my favorite). But I’ve never experienced the power of Hedwig’s story like I did at the midnight screening last week. I don’t know what it was about this specific time.
It wasn’t the shadow cast. Despite their amazing costumes, they didn’t add much except for a couple of good sight gags. I quickly gave up on watching them and focused on the screen. Unlike Rocky Horror, which is so bad it needs the distraction, Hedwig is actually good (“We like this movie, so shut up during the quiet parts” we were told by the cast going into the film). It doesn’t need any more gimmicks.
I think when I saw the Broadway version, I was dazzled by the spectacle of it. The glitz and glamour and everything that goes in to see a show on the Great White Way. Watching the movie after that was about the music. Reveling in the beautiful songs that I love more and more every time I hear them (“Origin of Love” melts me). Almost every single song is on my driving mix, and I will sing them every single time.
But this time, I was purely locked into the story. I legitimately fell in love with Hedwig, looking into that gorgeous face and seeing the pain in those sad eyes. The treatment she receives from the world around her killed me, but her sass and wit brought me back. I experienced the sheet power of this story in a way I never had before and I was in awe of this beautiful bewigged woman.
Something else that I think changed this experience for me too was just being more comfortable with the idea of gender fluidity. As open minded as I try to be about such things, it can be a struggle. On this watch, it wasn’t an issue. I accepted Hedwig as she was, and I think that might have made the difference.