Annick Honoré / Joy Division - "Truth hits everybody"

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29 May, 2007 Share

Annick Honor� Ian Curtis Joy Division interview
On May 18th, it was 25 years ago that Ian Curtis, the enigmatic frontman of cult act Joy Division committed suicide. Curtis died at age 23 in 1980, shortly before he was due to tour the US. The BBC spent a whole day broadcasting songs, tributes and many more while press worldwide commemorated this rather sad anniversary. And it isn't over yet, for the next several months up until next year we will see several books released on Curtis, at least one biopic and several tribute CDs of which a few have already reached the market.

As far as the CDs are concerned, one can say that they are what they are, copies, the one paler than the other, of what was and still is revolutionary, even now as not many bands have succeeded in reaching a similar creative standard and level as Joy Division did back then and this with only two albums produced. (By Bernard Van Isacker - 2005)

Less predictable though are the efforts by film directors and related to have their go on Curtis' life. Whereas "24 hour party people" described the rise and fall of Factory Records, the projects now focused on the man himself and not always in such a good way as some might think... In the end 2 projects saw the light of day in early 2004, but only one made it through.

The first, and now aborted, film project was to be developed by the American producer Amy Hobby, who was behind the Maggie Gyllenhall film "Secretary". Included in that project was Moby, as the film's musical advisor. The biopic of the life of Curtis was to follow the 2003 film "24 Hour Party People", which told the history of the Manchester music scene through the trials of Joy Division's label, Factory Records with Curtis being played by the actor Sean Harris. The new film was to be made with the help of London-based Neal Weisman, who is friends with Factory Records former chief Tony Wilson. Expected to start shooting in early 2005 the project however did not get off the ground as it failed to get the backing of Curtis's family and most in particular by Deborah Curtis, the widow of Ian Curtis, from whom the singer had split before committing suicide.

A project that did get the support of Deborah Curtis and for which she acts as a co-producer is the Ian Curtis biopic "Control", based on the book "Touching from a Distance" written by the late singer's wife. In a reaction she says:

    "We're looking to give the world a truthful view of who Ian really was ... Given his suicide, there's so much concentration on the dark side of his life. We want to also concentrate on the energy that made people love Ian and Joy Division in the first place, while putting difficult elements such as his epilepsy into perspective. It will be a balanced approach - this isn't the rock and roll Shine."
"Control " will be co-produced by Tony Wilson. It is being directed by Dutch photographer/cineast Anton Corbijn, the man behind music promos from Depeche Mode, Front 242 and U2 and should be out by early 2006.

While Anton Corbijn initiated work for the upcoming Ian Curtis biopic, Deborah Curtis started a series of interviews in which she speaks about the relationship the couple had saying that "During my marriage I completely alienated from my friends and family." The couple married in 1975, when Deborah was 18 and Ian 19. Four years later a baby girl Natalie was born, just when Joy Division broke through. The success was welcome since the couple had money troubles. However, the combination of the life of a pop artist, Ian's epilepsy, his temper and depressions didn't exactly ease a stable marriage. The same year when his daughter was born Ian started a relationship with Annik Honoré, a young Belgian Embassy worker.

The love affair will be touched upon in the upcoming Ian Curtis biopic by Anton Corbijn for which Deborah and daughter Natalie Curtis together with Annik Honoré provided input. Honoré let the screenwriter look into the letters she and Ian exchanged. Honoré:
    "I never thought I would have to do this but once the project was rolling it was better that they really understood how Ian was: attentive, emotional, solitary, sick, altruiste, comprehensive, labourous, talentful. But in daily life he could be humourous, he loved fooling around. He wasn't gothic at all you know!"

One can only hope that the negative comments by Deborah on Honoré in her book together with factual errors, will not have a too big an impact on the story in "Control". The film will remain a fictionalisation with dialogues that have been reinvented.

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A better bet to know how Ian Curtis really was, could well be the upcoming book by Lindsay Reade, the ex-wife of Tony Wilson. In that still untitled book a part will be dedicated to the relation between Honoré and Curtis based on the letters from Ian to Annik and an extensive interview with Annik Honoré herself. Reade was well aware of what was going on at Factory Records as she played a major role in how the label was run. The book will furthermore be based on interviews with Ian Curtis' mother, sister and aunt in order to get a more correct picture of who Ian Curtis really was. If this means that the final chapter has been written on Curtis is to be seen, but it will at least have the merit of showing a different perspective on things.

Annik Honoré herself has never stepped in the spotlights and still finds the whole Ian Curtis thing "very painful" to talk about. But what made her decide to avoid any feedback on the often very character killing publications and comments through the years?


    "I think it must be my age you know, wisdom comes with age they say... I preferred to keep a low profile on this part of my life because emotions and feelings are very personal; I'm rather 'zen' anyhow. I try to keep a distance from it all and keep a bit of my sense of humour. Anyhow, looking at it from a distance, things can be so absurd. When such a personal love story between two people is known by the media and fans - a terrible race they are, I mean especially those that overdue it and think they can get away with everything - then all is permitted so it seems. I learned from all this one very good lesson: I do not believe everything that is or has been written on people, especially the bad and gratuitous stuff. It gets even more delicate when it is about a person who died."
And she adds: "The music should always be more important than people's private lives."

For Honoré music has remained an important piece in her life though:
    "I love the music by Front 242 (editor's note: she organised the very first big concert of Front 242 in Plan K in Brussels in 1981), and the Belgian scene in general with bands like Deus, Zita Swoon and Daan but also Soldout, Jeronimo, Austin Lace, Superlux, Buscemi, Girls in Hawaii and so on."

This interview was published in Side-Line issue 58 !
image Side-Line issue 52

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