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Review - The Nomi Song (DVD-2005)
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The Nomi Song (DVD-2005)

Palm Pictures

Reviewed by Daniel Severin

 

Klaus Nomi is an enigmatic 1980s pop-torch singer who has unfairly been forgotten. Hoping to reclaim the singer’s fame, director Andrew Horn spent six years working on a documentary about Nomi. One of the first celebrities to die of AIDS, Klaus Nomi fused classical and pop and glitter and gutter aesthetics. Horn’s film The Nomi Song has just been released on DVD. Packed with interviews with Nomi’s friends and collaborators, the film gives an intimate glimpse of one of the strangest stars who ever lived.

 

The film traces Nomi’s birth in Germany during World War II and how his childhood obsession with opera inspired the evolution into a performing alien sent from outer space to save the human race, as his tag-line went. The New Wave art and music scene in Greenwich Village, New York City was the perfect destination from which to launch Nomi’s musical career. Nomi quickly gained a cult following and signed a deal with a major European record label. The catchy tunes and alienated song lyrics struck a chord with listeners, as did his striking image.

 

Nomi’s band members, colleagues, and friends fill the viewer in on Klaus Nomi’s unusual music and how his image and persona developed. Boasting lots of archival footage of concerts and New York in the early ‘80s, the film looks amazing. A very talented team also recreated scenes from Nomi’s past that influenced his career, such as his devotion to diva Maria Callas.

 

Nomi was way ahead of his time, and to show his influence on pop music the DVD presents four remixes of Nomi songs by electronic artists influenced by Nomi’s work. Other extras on the disc summarize the New Wave musical movement from which Nomi emerged and give more information on the mesmerizing star.

 

Director Horn did an amazing job of acquiring footage and interviewing Nomi associates. The film hints that Nomi is as worthy of homage as gay music pioneers like Boy George and Marc Almond but strangely leaves out the importance of Nomi’s legacy and his influence on the pop music of today. Since New Wave-inspired music is now so old-hat that it is used to hawk Big Macs on TV, the film would be stronger if it included interviews with New York musicians like Scissor Sisters, who cite Nomi as an influence. Ultimately, The Nomi Song is a valuable introduction to an awesome talent who should have been the Judy Garland of his day.

 

 

2005 Daniel Severin/Celluloid Dreams

 

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