|This film version of the 1968 album by The Who was directed by Ken Russell, who often uses snakes in his movies, so I was not surprised to see a brief appearance by several snakes in it. If you love The Who's rock opera, be aware that most of the songs in the movie are not sung by The Who. Most of the songs are good cover versions, but some are embarrasingly bad. Elton John's giant big-booted Pinball Wizard and Tina Turner's outrageous Acid Queen are highlights of the film, along with Tommy's mother's (Ann-Margrit) nervous-breakdown hallucination scene. She smashes her TV and massive amounts of laundry soap, baked beans, and chocolate come pouring out into her white living room and all over her body. It's hard to think of baked beans the same way after seeing that.
Tommy (Roger Daltry) was a normal boy, but after watching his mother and stepfather kill his real father, the shock causes him to become "deaf, dumb, and blind." Somehow he becomes a rich pinball player (as if it was a professional sport). Then he regains his lost senses and becomes a Messiah/Guru with expensive Tommy enlightenment camps all over the world, symbolized with a cross with a silver pinball on top.
But before all that, Tommy just sat around in his stepfather Frank's (Oliver Reed) Sex Shop with his perverted Uncle Ernie (Keith Moon.) One day Ernie convinces Frank to buy Tommy a prostitute. Enter Tina Turner, The Acid Queen, who takes him upstairs to her room and puts him on her bed, while singing a great version of the Acid Queen song:
"If your child ain't all he should be now
This girl will put him right
I'll show him what he could be now
Just give me one night
I'm the gypsy, the acid queen
Pay me before I start
I'm the gypsy and I'm guaranteed
To mend his aching heart
Give us a room, close the door
Leave us for a while
You won't be a boy no more
Young, but not a child..."
The Snake Scene
In a very bizarre depiction of a first sexual experience, twin blonde women with invisible dresses carry a shiny metal mask and put it on The Acid Queen's head. She's holding a giant syringe full of blood-like red liquid. Then she becomes a giant shiny metallic Iron Maiden filled with giant syringes full of red liquid. The twins put Tommy inside, fully-dressed, and close the doors. The syringes inject red liquid in, then pump it back out. The doors open and we see Tommy's father. Then they open again and we see Tommy unclothed and looking very happy. Then they open and we see a skeleton with snakes crawling through the skull. As the camera tracks down we see a giant black snake draped over the crotch area, and several snakes crawling around the feet of the skeleton. Then it opens again and Tommy falls out, fully-dressed. We again see The Acid Queen back in the flesh, her syringe now empty.
Don't ask me what all this is supposed to mean. Snakes and skulls are often used as a symbol of mortality, and the snakes are apparent symbols of sex, especially the giant crotch snake, but you'll have to figure out the rest for yourself. Ultimately, the whole scene is as disturbing as everything else in Tommy, which really is a dreadfull story of murder, trauma, abuse, religion for sale, and more violence, especially when filtered through Ken Russell's twisted vision.
The snakes we see are live ball pythons, boa constrictors and a mangrove snake that appears to be dead.
There are a few versions of the scene on YouTube, but some are missing the part with the snakes. This YouTube video has them.