Edgar Wright has been in the headlines this year, primarily because of his psychological thriller Last Night in Soho, but he has made another important movie this year called The Sparks Brothers. While Last Night in Soho received mixed reviews, Wright’s documentary about Ron and Russell Mael of Sparks impressed most of the audience members who had the opportunity of watching this new film.
In a recent interview, Wright opened up about his own experiences with the music of Sparks as well as his understanding of the band’s history. Apart from The Sparks Brothers, Sparks were also featured in another 2021 project which caught the attention of everyone and that was Leos Carax’s latest musical Annette.
“Ron just sort of knew he couldn’t be like a rocker at the keyboards. It didn’t really feel ‘him’ to do the Jerry Lee Lewis or the Keith Emerson thing,” Wright said. “So he took his cue from Buster Keaton instead… this sort of poker-faced deadpan look, looking at the camera, just upstaging everybody else by doing nothing.”
While recalling his personal experiences, Wright noted that it was a weekly ritual for him to watch Top of the Pops and enjoy the music of Sparks which later helped him make this documentary: “I used to watch Top of the Pops every week, seeing Sparks doing some of the Giorgio Moroder-produced singles like Beat the Clock and No, 1 in Heaven.”
Wright also revealed that he found it unsettling to watch the brothers stare into the camera back then: “I remember being slightly unnerved by the fact that both Ron and Russell would just stare right down the camera at you, unsmiling, which was quite a strange thing back in those days, because most pop performers were all smiles. So, a big contrast to Abba.
“Sometimes some people have a problem with humour in music. I think it’s because in music people want things to be sincere,” Wright observed, commenting on the unique brand of music that Sparks has championed and the popular perception of the relationship between music and humour that has often been looked down upon.
“Sometimes they [think] if there’s humour in the music, does that mean somehow, ‘Are Sparks making fun of me for liking this music? Is it insincere?'” Wright mused. “I don’t think it is. I think everything’s done with passion. And whilst some things like that may have stopped them from being as big as Queen, on the flip side, we’re here talking about it! It makes them more memorable in the long run”.
Watch the trailer for Edgar Wright’s new documentary The Sparks Brothers below.