Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Tuesday, November 20, 2018

“Studio 54” reveals unsung emotions from the 70s club’s rise and demise

"Studio 54" recounts the successes and failures of Studio 54 club owners Steve Rubell (left) and Ian Schrager (right).

“Studio 54” recounts the vibrant life and scandalous death of Studio 54 through the owners’ journey from beloved revolutionaries to criminals. While the written history of the 1970s nightclub tells us about abuse of power and greed, the documentary, “Studio 54,” reveals another story; one of emotional turbulence and being the victim of one’s own success.

The Studio 54 discotheque left a permanent mark on New York party culture and the West Side area thanks to the owners, Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell. This club was not only an absurd conglomeration of sex and drugs, but also a haven for people in the LGBTQ community who were often victims of homophobia and violence at that time.

The nightclub phenomenon that was Studio 54, as influential and groundbreaking as it was, is often left behind when we look at influencers of American culture. “Studio 54” does justice to the scale of impact that this often forgotten piece of history had, and the people behind it.

Schrager’s interviews play a pivotal role in progressing the documentary central narrative, as well as the interviews of others involved in the club’s history. The candor and raw emotion from the interviewees tell more than the factual history of the club. The bartenders, security guards, partiers, performers and promoters convey the liveliness of the club’s glory days and the sorrow they felt in its demise. Schrager’s accounts of his guilt and grievances give more life to the club’s history and adds a human element this story that forces the viewer to sympathize with him.

This documentary has visually interesting cinematography that works as a type of patchwork of old and new footage. The videos and pictures from the nightclub’s parties reveal the true pandemonium that existed within its walls and the interviews give life to the people behind the club’s operations.

While much of the film is centered around Schrager and Rubell’s lives during and after the Studio 54 club, it is also about the culture that they molded and the people who that culture impacted and shaped. The documentary keeps viewers on their toes and invested in the livelihood of the club and its owners. It is a must-see inside look at one of the biggest skimming scandals in New York history that goes beyond the surface level scandal.

Grade: A

ggeorge@theeagleonline.com


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