Stop Making Sense

Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs) rewrote concert film rules with this inventive recording of four rousing live shows from Talking Heads in 1983.

Time & Tickets

In 1983, legendary art rockers Talking Heads set out to make a concert film like no other. Independent of their record company, they hired Jonathan Demme, a then-relatively unknown filmmaker, to direct. Working closely with Byrne and the band, Demme counteracted the MTV style of the era, avoiding quick cuts or cutaways to the crowd in the certain knowledge that the more we see of what’s happening on stage, the more immersed and mesmerised we will be.

The dazzling set list aside, it’s their film’s formal inventiveness that is amazing, beginning with the conceptual crescendo of the concert’s construction. It starts with genius frontman David Byrne performing PSYCHO KILLER alone on stage with beat box and guitar, then adds instruments, stage machinery and musicians with each successive number. That’s to say nothing of Byrne's expanding white suit.

STOP MAKING SENSE was once dubbed ‘the CITIZEN KANE of concert movies’ and it’s easy to see why: this is a perfect concert movie, a pop cultural dispatch from 1983 that stays forever thrilling.

Jonathan Demme, USA, 1984, 88 min. English spoken, without subtitles.