Hedwig and the Angry Inch

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Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Directed by John Cameron Mitchell
Produced by Christine Vachon
Written by John Cameron Mitchell
Stephen Trask
Starring John Cameron Mitchell
Miriam Shor
Stephen Trask
Theodore Liscinski
Rob Campbell
Music by Stephen Trask
Cinematography Frank G. DeMarco
Editing by Andrew Marcus
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Fine Line Features
Release date(s) July 20, 2001
Running time 95 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $6 million[citation needed]
Gross revenue $3.6 million[citation needed]

Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a 2001 American musical film based on the stage musical of the same title about a fictional rock and roll band fronted by an East German transgendered 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[1] similar to that of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

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 the Premiere magazine "Performance of the Year Award".

Plot summary

Hansel Schmidt (John Cameron Mitchell) is an East German "slip of a girlyboy" who loves philosophy and rock music stuck in East Berlin until he meets Luther Robinson (Maurice Dean Wint), a US 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.

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.

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 shy and misunderstood Christian teenager Tommy Speck (Michael Pitt), with whom she writes some songs. Hedwig gives him the stage name "Tommy Gnosis", 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. In the film, these gigs are performed at a chain seafood restaurant called Bilgewaters.

Throughout the film, Hedwig refers to Aristophanes' speech in Plato's Symposium. 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. Hedwig is following Tommy on his tour dates to pursue a lawsuit.


  • John Cameron Mitchell as Hansel Schmidt / Hedwig
  • Miriam Shor as Yitzhak
  • Stephen Trask as Skszp
  • Theodore Liscinski as Jacek
  • Rob Campbell as Krzysztof
  • Michael Aronov as Schlatko
  • Andrea Martin as Phyllis Stein
  • Michael Pitt as Tommy Speck / Tommy Gnosis
  • Alberta Watson as Hedwig Schmidt, Hansel's mother
  • Gene Pyrz as Hansel's father
  • Maurice Dean Wint as Sgt. Luther Robinson
  • Rosie O'Donnell as Herself
  • Dar Williams as Singer on main stage
  • Karen Hines as Tommy's publicist
  • Mike Potter as Second call girl
  • PJ DeBoy as Dreadlocked extra
  • Ben Mayer-Goodman as Young Hansel

Musical numbers

  1. "Tear Me Down"
  2. "Random Number Generation" (excerpt only)
  3. "Tear Me Down (Tommy Gnosis version)" (excerpt only)
  4. "The Origin of Love"
  5. "Sugar Daddy"
  6. "The Angry Inch"
  7. "Wig in a Box"
  8. "The Origin of Love (Tommy Gnosis version)" (excerpt only)
  9. "Wicked Little Town"
  10. "I Will Always Love You" (excerpt only)
  11. "The Long Grift" (excerpt only, full version on soundtrack)
  12. "Nailed" (on soundtrack only)
  13. "Freaks" (excerpt only, full version on soundtrack, with Girls Against Boys)
  14. "In Your Arms Tonight"
  15. "Hedwig's Lament"
  16. "Exquisite Corpse"
  17. "Wicked Little Town (Reprise)"
  18. "Midnight Radio"

For the film soundtrack, Hedwig's songs were recorded by John Cameron Mitchell (lead vocals), Stephen Trask, Miriam Shor, Bob Mould (of Hüsker Dü), Ted Liscinski, Perry L. James, Alexis Fleisig, and Eli Janney.

Tommy Gnosis' songs were recorded by Stephen Trask (lead vocals), Miriam Shor, Bob Mould, Ted Liscinski, Perry L. James, Scott McCloud, Eli Janney, Alexis Fleisig, and Johnny Temple.


According to the DVD commentary, most of the lead vocals were recorded "live". To capture the intensity of a live performance, the scenes were shot in order.

To look like a transgender person, Mitchell had to shave constantly during the course of the film shoot, often using an electric razor between shots while still in full makeup. In the DVD commentary, Mitchell mentions that Pitt was somewhat uncomfortable with their prolonged kissing scene, complaining about being scratched by Mitchell's stubble. Mitchell complained about Pitt consuming onion and garlic directly before shooting the scene.

The film's DVD features several deleted scenes, mostly expanding on the characters around Hedwig. We learn more about Yitzhak (he was once a drag queen called "Krystal Nacht", a pun on Kristallnacht) and how he met Hedwig in a Croatian drag bar. We also learn that Hedwig's manager Phyllis Stein has a cell phone surgically implanted in a tooth. When she gets hit in the head with a dryer door, she is unable to hang up her phone. Krzyzhtoff (Rob Campbell), whom Hedwig has just yelled at for putting her bra in the dryer, attempts to help Phyllis by pressing on her tooth.


Mitchell and Trask performed twice on The Rosie O'Donnell Show (the second time with Dean DeLeo of Stone Temple Pilots). At first, the studio objected to a "drag" performance on the daytime family show, but relented at the insistence of O'Donnell. Mitchell and his band performed "The Origin of Love". A clip from this show was used in the Hedwig film, with O'Donnell's blessing.[citation needed]

Mitchell said that his performance on the Late Show with David Letterman as Hedwig was interesting: "During rehearsal, a disembodied voice emanating from the control booth gently told me that I couldn't rip my wig off during the song ("Tear Me Down"). I asked why, but there was only silence from on high. So when we taped, I ripped it off after the song. They edited it out. I think they wanted people to think I was a woman and not a man in drag." [citation needed]

Fans of the play and film refer to themselves as "Hedheads". In Korea and Japan, a number of teen idols and respected actors have played the role and generated a large number of young, female Hedheads. The film has spawned a small worldwide Rocky Horror-like cult following, with midnight screenings, or "shadowcasts", where fans dress up as the characters and sometimes act out the dialogue or talk back to the screen.


  • 2001 Berlin International Film Festival - Best Feature Film (Teddy Award)
  • 2002 Golden Globes - nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy (John Cameron Mitchell)
  • 2001 Sundance Film Festival - Audience Award (Dramatic); Directing Award (Dramatic) - John Cameron Mitchell; nominated for Grand Jury Prize
  • 2001 National Board of Review, USA - Best Debut Director - John Cameron Mitchell
  • 2001 Gotham Awards - Open Palm Award (Best Debut Director) - John Cameron Mitchell
  • 2002 Independent Spirit Awards - nominated for Best Cinematography (Frank G. DeMarco), Best Director (John Cameron Mitchell), Best Feature, Best First Screenplay (John Cameron Mitchell), and Best Male Lead (John Cameron Mitchell)
  • 2001 Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards - New Generation Award - John Cameron Mitchell
  • 2001 Deauville Film Festival - CineLive Award - John Cameron Mitchell; Critics Award - John Cameron Mitchell; Grand Special Prize - John Cameron Mitchell
  • 2001 Gijon International Film Festival - Best Actor - John Cameron Mitchell
  • 2001 Montreal Comedy Festival - Special Jury Prize
  • 2001 Austin Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival - Best Feature
  • 2001 Provincetown International Film Festival - Best Feature
  • 2001 San Francisco International Film Festival - Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature
  • 2001 San Francisco Lesbian & Gay Film Festival - Best First Feature - John Cameron Mitchell
  • 2001 Seattle International Film Festival - Best Actor (John Cameron Mitchell)
  • 2001 Stockholm International Film Festival - Honorable Mention
  • 2002 Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards - Best Use of Previously Published or Recorded Music
  • 2002 L.A. Outfest - Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role - John Cameron Mitchell, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role - Miriam Shor
  • 2002 Florida Film Critics Circle Awards - Best Songs; Newcomer of the Year - John Cameron Mitchell
  • 2002 Glitter Awards - Best Feature voted by U.S/International Gay Film Festivals and U.S. Gay Press
  • 2002 GLAAD Media Awards - Outstanding Film (Limited Release)
  • 2002 Chlotrudis Awards - Best Actor - John Cameron Mitchell


External links


*Some information provided in whole or in part by http://en.wikipedia.org/