Echo Bridge Home Entertainment // 1995 // 74 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // December 1st, 2008
"I've always wanted to smash a guitar over someone's head. You just can't do that with a piano." -- Elton John
Tantrums and Tiaras is a "somewhat candid" documentary following British music legend Elton John during 1995 and filmed by his partner David Furnish. It was a great year for Elton; he was celebrating his 25th year in the music business as the self-proclaimed "Liberace of Rock and Roll." He released the CD Made in England and embarked on a huge international tour that signified a celebration of his career shared by millions. Oscar honored him with an Academy Award for The Lion King songs, and he seemed to be happy enough to be selling out arenas left and right. Elton is rock royalty and this is his call and response to Madonna's Truth or Dare, which is the closest comparison you could make to any other film out there. I suspect Tantrums and Tiaras is about as calculated a documentary as any rock star would allow it to be, the man is enough of a control freak to only show us the "warts" he would allow. We do see several sides to Elton John including time with his family, performing onstage, recording in the studio, unwinding in hotels, goofing off backstage, and throwing one or two silly tantrums over random stuff. Everything was taped by his boyfriend (now husband) David Furnish on a small handheld VHS camera, and we see what the couple allows of their public and private life.
There's nothing truly shocking to be found in Tantrums and Tiaras (by my count only two tantrums and a flash of two tiaras), but it fascinates nonetheless. Big surprise: Elton John spends tons of money and can be a bit of a demanding bitch when he performs or tries to vacation. We see him complain about everything except when he's on the stage, and those moments behind the piano in front of tens of thousands screaming fans are the times when he seems truly alive and happy. Off stage he is over indulged and always tired, drifting from one Versace store to the next or sitting around in a bathrobe in some fabulously appointed property. Most touching is we get to see him say goodbye to his grandmother, talk about why he works with his AIDS charity foundation, and hang out casually with other stars like Madonna and Kylie Minogue. Slightly damning footage includes him losing his temper at a video shoot or on a tennis court in France. He comes off as materialistic to a degree when we get to see the exorbitant amount of clothes he brings along on tour or vacation, but then this is all tempered with him donating time to charity or being a trooper during stage performances. It's more loving tribute than revelation, but I imagine that is exactly what Elton John and David Furnish set out to accomplish.
This is a first release on DVD to celebrate the program's thirteenth year. We get the "long cut" of the film rather than what was broadcast on television back in 1997, and it is the version which was popular on VHS. The image is low tech since most of Tantrums and Tiaras was filmed on home video equipment on the fly. Sound is provided in basic stereo which works well for the film. Extras include deleted sequences such as extended moments with Kylie Minogue, Rod Stewart, and touching comments from late fashion icon Gianni Versace. A commentary track is provided which gives us perspective from both David Furnish and Elton John in 2008. It's like eavesdropping on the couple as they rewatch the footage, and it's a great conversation which updates us on where the pair are now careerwise and personally.
Tantrums and Tiaras makes for great viewing specifically for Elton John fans, and it also works well to show the curious how big name rockstars live. We learn that there are lots of plane rides, luxurious hotels, and you end up owning every piece of clothing Versace has to offer. It's about time this one showed up on DVD! Elton has already celebrated his sixtieth birthday, and the entire industry seems to have changed for him. 1995 was probably one of his favorite years, and here's your chance to share it with him and his faithful partner.
Review content copyright © 2008 Brett Cullum; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 74 Minutes
Release Year: 1995
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Audio Commentary
* Deleted Sequences
* Elton's Official Site