Hedwig and the Angry Inchis a 2001 musical film based on the stage musical of the same title about a fictional rock band fronted by an East German transgender singer. The film was adapted and directed by John Cameron Mitchell , who also portrayed the title role. The music and lyrics are by Stephen Trask .
The musical has gathered a devoted cult following .
In 2001, the film won the Best Director and Audience Awards at the Sundance Film Festival as well as Best Directorial Debut from the National Board of Review , the Gotham Awards , and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association . Mitchell received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor and thePremieremagazine "Performance of the Year Award".
Hansel Schmidt ( John Cameron Mitchell ) is a philosophical East German "slip of a girly boy" who loves rock music, and is stuck in East Berlin until he meets Luther Robinson ( Maurice Dean Wint ), an American soldier. Luther falls in love with Hansel and the two decide to marry. This plan will allow Hansel to leave communist East Germany for the capitalist West . However, in order to be married, the couple must consist of a man and a woman. Hansel's mother, Hedwig ( Alberta Watson ), gives her child her name and passport and finds a doctor to perform a sex change . The operation is botched, however, leaving Hansel – now Hedwig – with a dysfunctional one-inch mound of flesh between her legs, the "Angry Inch" in the film's title.
Hedwig goes to live in Junction City, Kansas as Luther's wife. On their first wedding anniversary, Luther leaves Hedwig for a man. That same day, it is announced that the Berlin Wall has fallen and Germany will reunite, meaning as material gains go, Hedwig's sacrifices have been for nothing. Hedwig recovers from the separation by forming a rock band composed of Korean-born Army wives (The guitarist, Kwahng-Yi, is played by Sook-Yin Lee who stars in Mitchell's 2006 film,Shortbus). Hedwig befriends a shy and misunderstood Christian teenager, Tommy Speck ( Michael Pitt ), with whom she writes some songs. Hedwig falls in love with Tommy, and believes he is her "other half". Hedwig gives him the stage name "Tommy Gnosis" (stating thatGnosisis the Greek word for "knowledge"), but he later leaves her and goes on to become a wildly successful rock star with the songs Hedwig wrote alone and with him. "Internationally ignored" Hedwig and her band of Eastern Europeans, the Angry Inch, are forced to support themselves by playing coffee bars and strip mall dives. Throughout the film, these gigs are performed at a chain seafood restaurant called Bilgewater's. Hedwig is following Tommy's tour in order to pursue a copyright lawsuit. She tells unsuspecting diners her life story.
Throughout the film, Hedwig refers to Aristophanes ' speech in Plato 'sSymposium. This myth, retold by Hedwig in the song " The Origin of Love ", explains that human beings were once round, two-faced, four-armed, and four-legged beings. Angry gods split these early humans in two, leaving the separated people with a lifelong yearning for their other half. Near the end of the film, Hedwig is down and out. While working as a streetwalker, she finally meets Gnosis and they reconcile. After paparazzi burst onto the scene, Hedwig becomes famous and Gnosis' popularity suffers. Reunited with her band, Hedwig performs at Times Square Bilgewater's culminating in a violent removal of her drag.
We enter the final chapter of the film, one that seems to take place in a non-real space, perhaps Hedwig's mind. Now in male form, Hedwig discovers him/herself alone in front of Tommy on a huge stage. He sings to her, pleading forgiveness and saying goodbye; she realizes that she created her "other half" from within herself. Hedwig then finds him/herself in white heavenly space with her band and an audience all dressed in white. Hedwig gives Yitzhak her blonde wig and sings a song of triumph and solidarity with "all the misfits and losers" of the world. A brief animated sequence symbolizing the union of the separated Platonic halves leads to the final shot: Hedwig walking naked down a dark alley and into the street.