‘The Police: Everyone Stares’ Takes Viewers Behind The Scenes via Stewart Copeland’s Super 8 Camera (DVD REVIEW)

The first thing you notice when Everyone Stares: The Police Inside Out crackles into focus, is that you’re about to be taken on a ride, with not-perfect visuals, not-perfect sound and not-perfect symmetry. This is a bare-bones journey of a band out of late 1970’s England as they were ascending the mountain of fame. And in the blink of an eye, it’s right there in front of you. You reflexively raise your hand to pull your collar away from your throat because the sensation of being smothered is too real. There are too many fans surrounding the trio collectively known as The Police and the air is being sucked out of the room at an alarming speed. You wonder how they will survive it.

Stewart Copeland, the band’s tall lanky drummer, has a new toy in 1978 – a Super-8 movie camera – that he wields into every nook and cranny of hotel rooms and recording studios, jam-packed limos and video shoots on snowy mountains. He never seems to be without it – not even when he is performing for thousands of people during a concert. He captures distorted faces and piercing stares, homogenized discount hotel rooms and fans who begin to morph into one face. It started out as something to have fun with, to capture the new world cities The Police were starting to play in. It ended up being a documentary of the real life of rock stars on the rise and about to implode.

Copeland had actually forgotten about the footage as the years went by, once The Police stopped being The Police. Copeland had emerged himself into film scoring, collaborations and abstract musical projects, while Sting became a solo superstar and actor, and Andy Summers continued recording, touring and exhibiting his photography. “That rock star guy that I was as a kid seemed like almost another person,” Copeland reflected in the liner notes of the new film package, which came out last week on May 31st, on both DVD and BluRay.

With modern technology, Copeland was able to take his grainy home movies and build them into a grainy yet albeit completely absorbing capsule of life in the late 1970’s/early 1980’s, when three blonde musicians were taking over the world. Or was it the opposite? “Funny thing about life on the road,” Copeland says in a monotonic voiceover during Everyone Stares. “Adulation starts to feel like an obligation.” Despite all the new bings and whistles of today’s computer software, Copeland chose to keep his film authentically schizophrenic: shots are not set up to be visually appealing and voices can be distorted. He has pieced together several years’ worth of memories, attitudes and concerts into a frenetic car race over rocks and roots. The bumpier the more realistic. “The result was a film that was untouched by any hands other than my own.”

The Police were rock gods by the time they disbanded in 1984. Sting was becoming more controlling of what was being laid down in the studio and Copeland verbalized feeling like a dick during a video shoot that had nothing for him to do. Their fifth studio album, Synchronicity, would be the band’s swan song yet Sting’s high dive into being just Sting. “Everyone Stares is very different from any other movie I’ve seen about this kind of adventure,” Copeland writes. “When you watch the film, you are a member of The Police and your name is Stewart.”

Everyone Stares is simply the story of kids before and during their meteoric rise up the music charts and it’s a fascinating tale. The best thing about the film is its purity, its flaws and it’s of-the-moment reactions to a camera being shoved in their faces.  Copeland never lets his emotions waver into giddiness or frustration while trying to describe what we’re seeing on the screen and the pacing doesn’t allow for blinking. The extras are just as scrumptious.

In all, it’s worth having in your collection, especially if you’re having armchair fantasies of being a young rock star. It’ll put you straight for sure.

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