Mystify: Michael Hutchence

Mystify: Michael Hutchenceis a loving and intimate portrait of Michael Hutchence which exudes warmth, vulnerability and strength. An insight into his life and relationships – a narrative truth unravelled.

Michael Hutchence photographed in London. Photo Credit: Michael Putland/Getty Images  

“I know nothing, about the people that I touched”

These heavyhearted poetic lyrics by Michael Hutchence (lead singer of INXS) can be heard in the last song he ever wrote “Possibilities.” These lyrics reflect just how unaware Michael was of the impact he had on the world and how he’s adored and revered by countless generations.

Mystify should not merely be perceived as a recount of the sequence of events leading to his untimely death at the age of 37, but a tribute and acknowledgement of his legacy and how his music continues to resonate with the world.

Mystify, a documentary about Michael Hutchence, which was ten years in the making, was premiered on 25 April 2019. Long-time friend and writer/director Richard Lowenstein (who worked with Michael Hutchence in “Dogs in Space), collated Michael’s personal video and archival footage of behind-the-scenes content to pay homage to the true Michael Hutchence (untainted by tabloidization of media), a loving, free-spirited and charismatic individual who was renowned for a magnetic stage presence, poignant songwriting as well as an unapologetic sensuality on stage.

A bona fide Rockstar.

The documentary includes both Michael’s personal archival footage which Richard Lowenstein assembled, overlaid with audio taken from Michael’s past interviews. Lowenstein self-conducted interviews with artists such as Bono (U2), ex-partners of Hutchence, siblings Rhett and Tina Hutchence, personal manager Martha Troup as well as INXS bandmates.

In the development of the film, Lowenstein showed the film to Hutchence’s daughter Tiger Lily (Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily), who was instrumental in the development of the film. After she emailed the record company and brand management of INXS requesting access to INXS music, within 24 hours they were given nine songs for a decent rate.

As Richard Lowenstein recalls, reported in Sky News:

“She allowed me to come and show the film to her on a laptop. She got very moved by, a lot of the stuff she’d never heard of.”

The documentary also explores Michael’s relationships with the likes of Kylie Minogue, who gives a testimonial in the film. When recounting her time with Michael and their pursuit of a sensual hedonistic lifestyle in “Mystify”, she states:

“If you’re a sensual being, all of your senses need stimulation.”

Michael’s backstory of growing up in Hong Kong and then the US, played a significant role in shaping his worldliness and international perspective. This world view was translated into the lyrical content and sound of INXS.  Despite the critics during the 80’s, INXS were a forward-thinking band that were not afraid to disrupt the status quo. They encompassed a sense of internationalism in their music – attributing to their global success.

Featuring some iconic INXS songs, the documentary also incorporates rare material from Hutchence’s alliance with Ollie Olsen from Max Q. The film’s score was composed by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and Warren Ellis of The Dirty Three.

Mystify has grossed $1.1 million following its world premiere at Tribeca Film Festival with additional revenue rolling in through overseas territories.

Michael Hutchence’s legacy has certainly mystified the world – not only a bona fide rockstar but a loving father, husband, lover, brother and friend. As Michael sung in “Mystify”:

“And we’re leaving broken hearts behind”

Michael Hutchence in music video “Never Tear Us Apart.” Subject of new documentary by Richard Lowenstein. Photo Credit: BBC

“Mystify: Michael Hutchence” will be screened on ABC at 8:40pm on Sunday 24 November.

Subscribe to FIB’s newsletter for your weekly dose of music, fashion and pop culture news!