Music as a Muse: “Stop Making Sense”

stop making sense

This documentary, Stop Making Sense, puts The Talking Heads at the foreground.  It was filmed during the promotional tour for their then recent album, Speaking in Tongues, shot during three nights’ performances in the Pantage Theater in Hollywood. The title comes from the Talking Heads song, “Girlfriend is Better”.

As we get older and stop making sense, you won’t find her waiting long

Notably, the films entire budget was raised by the band themselves and with that budget, they managed to create a film that pioneered the genre of film documentary in many innovative ways:

  • It is the first movie ever to be made entirely with digital audio techniques.
  • It contains very fiew shots of the audience and minimizes the sound of cheering as much as possible.  According to David Byrne’s commentary in the bonus features, this was made as not to influence the viewer and allow them to form their own opinion of the performance.
  • The performances make no use of quick-cut editing techniques.  Many of the peformances are one continuous shot without close-ups.  This was intended to highlight the onstage interaction between all of the musicianship instead of protagonizing David Byrne the entire concert.
  • The film makes no use of colored light on the stage.  This imposed limitation results in some unorthodox methods of illumination, such as a lamp in “Naive Melody” (which he later uses as a dance partner)

The film has received raving reviews among critics and fans, and it is widely regarded as being among the finest examples of the music documentary genre.  ( It maintains a score of 97% “certified fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes.  The sound track spent over two years on the Billboard Top 200 and landed itself in slot number 345 of Rolling Stones 500 best albums of all time. (