Ridicule is nothing to be scared of, as Adam Ant bounces back for more. Film veteran Jack Bond talks to Alistair Harkness
“It was a disaster, wasn’t it?” marvels Jack Bond. The veteran documentary maker is referring to the decline of Adam Ant, who went from being one of the most iconic pop stars of the early 1980s to toiling in relative obscurity after being sectioned under the Mental Health Act three times.
“He reckons he lost 15 years, which is a terrible thing to happen to someone. But now he’s back. And how.”
Indeed he is, and in The Blueblack Hussar , Bond captures Adam Ant’s comeback as he embarks on the rigours of touring, while preparing material for his recently released sixth studio album.
It’s an intimate film, though surprisingly it never dwells on the bipolar condition that contributed to Ant’s absence from the music scene.
“If there was a trace of it about I wanted it to either be residing in the person as I saw them or not,” reasons Bond of his decision not to probe Ant about it.
“I just thought: I’ll make a film about the man as I find him now.”
It’s an approach Bond first used in 1965, when he worked with Salvador Dali on his vérité documentary Dali in New York. Similarly, the new film rarely leaves the present.
Save for a five-second clip of the Prince Charming video, the only archival footage comes in the opening minutes, when a scene of Ant from Derek Jarman’s 1978 punk opus Jubilee transitions into footage of the singer today, walking around London dressed like Lord Nelson.
If the film refuses to spoon-feed nostalgic fans, though, it does find Ant in reflective mood, particularly in relation to his artistic ambitions.
Indeed, the most illuminating scenes feature him visiting the studio of sculptor Allen Jones, where – among other things – he talks about being mentored by the late Scottish artist Sir Eduardo Paolozzi.
What it all adds up to is a portrait not of a fallen pop star or someone who sold out his punk ideals for commercial success, but of someone who was genuinely marching to the beat of his own drum.
Ridicule – to appropriate a line from his biggest hit – really was nothing to be scared of and this fearlessness, reckons Bond, may be one reason he has continued to inspire subsequent generations of musicians – among them Mark Ronson and The Klaxxons’ Jamie Reynolds, both of whom feature in The Blueblack Hussar .
“He’s an experimenter and he’s not afraid to take risks creatively,” surmises Bond. “He’s in the moment.”
• The Blueblack Hussar (featuring a Q&A with director Jack Bond), screens at the Glasgow Film Theatre on 8 September.