Director Jonathan Demme captures the frantic energy and artsy groove of Talking Heads in this concert movie shot over the course of three nights at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre in 1983. The band's frontman, David Byrne, first appears on an empty stage, armed with only an acoustic guitar, and is gradually joined by bassist Tina Weymouth, drummer Chris Frantz, keyboardist Jerry Harrison and a cadre of backup singers as they perform the band's hits, culminating in an iconic performance featuring Byrne in an enormous suit.
The concert serves as a comprehensive retrospective of the band's history to that time, featuring many of their popular songs from their first hit single, Psycho Killer, through their new album at the time, Speaking in Tongues. In addition, the group performs one song, Genius of Love, by the Tom Tom Club, a side project for two members of the band. The film is also a pioneering example of the use of early digital audio techniques. The band raised the budget of $1.2 million themselves.
Considered by many critics to be one of the greatest concert films of all time, STOP MAKING SENSE was selected in 2021 for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."
NR, 1h 28m.
"[T]he peak moments come through Byrne's simple physical presence. He jogs in place with his sidemen; he runs around the stage; he seems so happy to be alive and making music. Like Springsteen and Prince, he serves as a reminder of how sour and weary and strung-out many rock bands have become. Starting with Mick Jagger, rock concerts have become, for the performers, as much sporting events as musical and theatrical performances. STOP MAKING SENSE understands that with great exuberance." – Roger Ebert
"Talking Heads made for great material, with its revolutionary mash-up of punk, funk, art, avant-garde and other sounds. But what sets STOP apart is the intimate look at that brilliant talking head, lead singer David Byrne." – Los Angeles Times
"STOP MAKING SENSE is a concert film with a narrative, bursting at the seams with bits of invention and passion." – Slant Magazine
"A rock orgy of volcanic power, and the greatest concert film ever made." – Film Frenzy