Hansel is a young boy growing up in communist East Berlin.
Hedwig Robinson is a divorced Army wife following her former lover turned Rock Icon, Tommy Gnosis, with her band "The Angry Inch".
How Hansel becomes Hedwig, and how Hedwig becomes whole, is the story told in "Hedwig and the Angry Inch".
A lot of people have drawn comparisons between "Hedwig" and "Rocky Horror Picture Show", and while both are glam rock musicals with a bit of "gender-bending" that started out as stage shows, that's about where the similarities end.
Where "Rocky Horror" is a sexual farce loosely based on Frankenstein, "Hedwig" takes it's direction from Aristotle's speech (from Plato's Symposium) on the origin of love, essentially that once upon a time, humans had twice the arms, legs, and faces we have now, but were cut in two by the gods for being too proud - love comes from a desire to find the half we were seperated from.
Hansel's search leads him to an American GI who asks to marry him, but with the stipulation that "in order to leave, you have to leave a little somtehing behind". Hansel adopts his mother's name and hesitantly undergoes a botched sex change (in the same fashion as a back alley abortion), which leaves him with an "angry inch" of flesh.
A year later, a newly divorced woman scraping by on odd jobs and babysitting gigs, Hedwig meets and falls in love with Tommy Speck, whom she soon decides is her "other half". When Tommy decides he can't handle who (what?) she is, and runs away to become a rock star with the songs they wrote together, Hedwig takes to stalking him, shadowing his tour with a tour of her own through a chain of seafood restaurants.
As an unconventional love story whose ultimate message is "love thyself", "Hedwig" is a movie with a lot of laughs and a lot of heart. In creating an over the top, in your face star who's alternately cruel and heartbroken, John Cameron Mitchell manages to give us a completely (and surprisingly) believable character that despite having little in common with, almost everyone can identify with.
As if the movie weren't fabulous enough, the dvd comes with extended footage, a commentary by JCM and director of photography, some of the best menu design I've yet to see on a DVD, and best of all, a wonderful feature length documentary on the history of "Hedwig" from the first performance at Squeezebox to the present, including interviews with "Hed-Heads" (fans) discussing how much it's meant to them and how much a part of their lives it's become.
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Movie Information via IMDB