Fix: The Ministry Movie
Director by Douglas Freel
Produced by Jeffrey Kinart and Douglas Freel
This is the movie hardcore Ministry fans have been waiting for. That's that. If you're a fan of Ministry, you love Ministry; they helped shape your worldview and musical tastes, and ever since you shot that first track into your veins- whether it was "Stigmata" or "Thieves" or "N.W.O." or "Lies Lies Lies"- you've been dying to get an intimate look at the terrifying demon wizard behind this madness.
That is precisely what director Douglas Freel delivers with Fix: The Ministry Movie. His unflinching approach captures Ministry during their "Sphinctour" in 1996, right as their groundbreaking kick in society's gotcha was being solidified, and right as front-man Al Jourgensen's chaotic lifestyle was hitting a pinnacle.
Never before Ministry had madness, frustration and emotion been so masterfully blasted upon an audience. It wasn't just metal; Jourgensen brought all sorts of genres together, blending hip hop sensibilities and even jazz influences, juxtaposed with metal and samples of films and other media, into a hostile concoction that became known as Industrial. It was raw, it was angry, and it was real, tangible in a way that hit to the listener's soul, giving a body and sound to the monster within all of us.
Ministry rattled music to its core, violently shaking away the stale, disgusting scabs left from all the wounds pop music in the 80's had left on the human collective. Jourgensen figured out a complex blend of hard rock, danceable beats, and soc ially conscious lyrics that would redefine music forever. 1988's The Land of Rape and Honey starts off with the timeless anthem "Stigmata," which feels like it's only barely containing mania. Maybe it's the repetitive guitar riffs, or the fast drumming, or the synthesizers, but all combined, it remains a staple of rock music.
From that point on, Ministry was able to consistently produce music that redefined music and even modern culture, seeping from the underground to infect all the pretty facades of the mainstream. Jourgensen quickly went from underground rock star to cultural icon, as his songs attacked complacency, cursed our warmongering government, and championed anarchy.
Am I exaggerating Ministry's influence on music and modern culture? Remember that Stanley Kubrick hand-picked Ministry to play in the Flesh Fair scene of A.I. Artificial Intelligence, and this decision was one that Steven Spielberg honored when he took up the film, following Kubrick's death. Not to mention, every successful hard rock band since 1990 can be clearly shown as having followed in Ministry's footsteps, in one way or another. From Nine Inch Nails to Marilyn Manson those silly pop rockers Linkin Park, Ministry's impact remains one of the strongest in music history.
Indeed, Ministry is one of the most original- and ultimately most influential- bands of all time.
They were also one of the funniest, a fact by no means lost in Fix, as can be seen with moments like the random footage of David Yow (The Jesus Lizard, Qui, Scratch Acid, all around fun guy) strolling around the stage naked, as Ministry performs "Just One Fix." He then struts over to Jourgensen, who gives him a quick smooch in the middle of the song.
Ministry was never a pretty or glamorous band by any stretch of the imagination, but even so, Freel manages to intertwine some beautiful shots of bridges and driving across the country into the movie. Then it's back to the tour, and back to the chaos. This range underscores the true relevance of Ministry: a force that that stirred hostility as a means to connect to humanity.
It's probably not quite cinema verite, but Fix gets just as intimate with Ministry as Wayne Ewing did with Hunter S. Thompson in Breakfast with Hunter, or D.A. Pennebaker did with Bob Dylan in Don't Look Back. The film mainly focuses on Jourgensen, with plenty of input from Paul Barker, who worked with Jourgensen on Ministry longer than anybody else. Whereas Barker gives the more sober, calm insight into what that tour was like- and what Ministry's role in society really was- Jourgensen's appearances range from philosophical to ranting about people trying to kill him.
The freaky thing is, you don't ever know what's lunacy and what's profound insight with Jourgensen. There's footage of him trying out various types of bullet proof vests, since he's convinced they're a necessary thing to wear when outside of the tour bus. This comes off as paranoid behavior likely spawned from all the heroin and booze, but then you see a concert where some jackoff in the crowd lets off a bunch of tear gas, and you quickly realize that Jourgensen was simply being cautious, as he was fully aware of the volatility he was provoking with his music.
Freel also manages to get some great interviews with a wide range of Ministry cohorts, including Maynard James Keenan (Tool, A Perfect Circle, Puscifer), Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails), Dave Navarro (Jane's Addiction), Lemmy Kilmister (Motorhead), Jonathan Davis (Korn) and tons more. William S. Burroughs and Dr. Timothy Leary even make appearances, as Jourgensen's close friends and father figures during this strange period in his life.
It's been a long time coming, but Fix: The Ministry Movie delivers an excellent look at Ministry, that's every bit as jagged and touching as all the great music produced by this legendary band.