This documentary was made three years after Jimi Hendrix's untimely death. At the time it was an example of how a visual biography should be done, but some of the information in it needs ... See full summary »
This documentary was made three years after Jimi Hendrix's untimely death. At the time it was an example of how a visual biography should be done, but some of the information in it needs revising in the light of new information uncovered over the years. The film contains concert footage spanning the Marquee in 1967 to his last UK performance at the third Isle of Wight festival in 1970; along the way we see classic performances at Monterey (1967), Woodstock (1969), Fillmore East (1969/70), and Berkeley (1970). A double album was released to tie-in with the film, containing the complete performances in the film, along with interviews with people in the film (not necessarily the same interviews). The film is worth seeing for Jimi's performances, and to hear what his contemporaries have to say about him (Eric Clapton, Mitch Mitchell, Lou Reed, Mick Jagger, Pete Townsend, and others). Written by
a man who could play the coolest blues, the most far-out rock, and a good man behind the ultimate tragedy
Jimi Hendrix chronicles the story of the man, the myth, the legend, the left-handed dude with a love of the blues and Bob Dylan, and who took rock and roll almost to another planet (just listen to some of the tracks off Electric Ladyland and see how he goes into music like the equivalent of a crazy science fiction writer). He was also, as described by Eric Clapton, "guillible", and susceptible to the leeches that lay around him that, by way of the drugs, led to his very sudden downfall. Had he lived there's no doubt he could have had an output that for his genre would be the equivalent of one of those great 18th century European composers or even 20th century Jazzmen. There's been so much written about him that he's been elevated to the status he's at today, so it's a welcome thing to see this documentary so soon after his death.
Welcome, though also one can see the pain in some of the interviewees under the surface. Many on screen, his fellow ex-band-mates like Billy Cox and Mitch Mitchell, and some of his own family and close friends, still have the memory of Jimi fresh in their minds, and so their recollections, both loving and even critical, comes at a time when there's still a lot to ponder. Through this and various concert clips (some well known like Woodstock and Monterey Pop clips, some more obscure like Band of Gypsies and Isle of Wight), and a superb interview conducted by Dick Cavett, portray Hendrix as a smart guy who could play a guitar like, as Townsend describes, "an instrument." In truth- and even for those who may just admire him as opposed to outright love and cherish his music- he was reaching into territory that was far surpassing anything done in the late 60s.
He had the basics down for the best in blues (maybe my favorite scene in the film, maybe exclusive just to this documentary, has him in a white room playing a 'Train' type of blues song that is so invigorating to see what he comes up with, begging the cameras to keep rolling). He also was a kind of wild man about his imagination, and so didn't hold back with an audience. He appealed to white and black, rock and blues, soul and (as might be the case years later) heavy metal, and without ever making himself into a commodity - that was done after he was dead and buried. What A Film About Jimi Hendrix portrays is a confident man, at peace with himself, but as is described by those around him someone who had such extraordinary things about him that his few flaws made his undoing. And it is a near perfect treat for die-hard fans.
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