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The Last Waltz (1978)

PG  |   |  Documentary, Music  |  26 April 1978 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 12,034 users   Metascore: 88/100
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A film account and presentation of the final concert of The Band.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
The Band ...
Rick Danko ...
Himself - Bass & Violin & Vocal (as The Band)
Himself - The Band: Lead Guitar & Vocal
Richard Manuel ...
Himself - Piano / Keyboards / Drums / Vocal (as The Band)
Himself - Drums / Mandolin / Vocal (as The Band)
Garth Hudson ...
Himself - Organ / Accordion / Saxophone / Synthesizers (as The Band)
Himself - Performer
Himself - Performer
Himself - Performer
Herself - Performer
Himself - Performer
Herself - Performer
Himself - Performer
Paul Butterfield ...
Himself - Performer
Himself - Performer


Thanksgiving, 1976, San Francisco's Winterland: the Band performs its last concert after 16 years on the road. Some numbers they do alone, some songs include guest artists from Ronnie Hawkins (their first boss, when they were the Hawks) to Bob Dylan (their last, when as his backup and as a solo group, they came into their own). Scorsese's camera explores the interactions onstage in the making of music. Offstage, he interviews the Band's five members, focusing on the nature of life on the road. The friendships, the harmonies, the hijinks, and the wear and tear add up to a last waltz. Written by <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


It Started as a Concert. It Became a Celebration. [original theatrical] See more »


Documentary | Music


PG | See all certifications »


Official Sites:




Release Date:

26 April 1978 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El último vals  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$16,151 (USA) (5 April 2002)


$321,952 (USA) (24 May 2002)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Levon Helm states in "This Wheel's On Fire" that Garth Hudson appears so eccentric in his oddly woozy interview because Martin Scorsese showed up to interview him, unannounced, at 6:00 am. See more »


During Garth Hudson's solo in the song "Stagefright", the entire song cuts forward approximately 25 seconds. See more »


Himself - Drums: New York, it was an adult portion. It was an adult dose. So it took a couple of trips to get into it. You just go in the first time and you get your ass kicked and you take off. As soon as it heals up, you come back and you try it again. Eventually, you fall right in love with it.
See more »

Crazy Credits

During the United Artists opening logo the sound of the filmmakers getting ready to shoot the first sequence of the film (Rick Danko playing pool, which it leads right into) can be heard. See more »


Featured in No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo & Vilmos (2008) See more »


Written by Neil Young
Performed by Neil Young with The Band
See more »

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User Reviews

Glare of the Spotlight
11 January 2005 | by (Alabama) – See all my reviews

This movie was only a name to me until I saw it last year. Immediately, I was riveted by everything about it. I've always been a casual fan of The Band, and of Levon Helm in particular. However, I'd never been bowled over by Bob Dylan, except as a songwriter, so much of The Band's work remained unknown to me as well. I wouldn't say I've become a rabid fan, but I am much more interested in their work, now.

It's a Scorsese film--how could it not be beautifully photographed, but Scorsese managed a difficult feat: he keeps himself out of the movie, except as interviewer during those sequences. This is not really Scorese's vision of a rock concert. It happened mostly organically, certainly with mistakes, gaffes and grit. This is part of its charm.

There are better singers than the guys in The Band, but few better musicians. This can be illustrated with Robbie Robertson in the Clapton song: Clapton's guitar strap comes off and Robertson, with one beat, picks right up on the solo. It looked planned, but wasn't. Joni Mitchell was notoriously hard to back up, due to her original guitar tuning, and ragged song phrasing, but bassist Rick Danko fills in every space with intricate bass figuring.

Perhaps we have become too accustomed to the overwrought, over-hyped, overproduced, overexposed, shiny gack that passes for popular music to appreciate the raw, the imperfect, the sheer humanness of this music. Scorsese shows it all. The guys in The Band were largely worn out and sometimes strung out in the interviews. They are tired, scrawny, empty-eyed from the excesses of the road. Rick Danko is hovering on the ragged edge, as his band is dissolved, and he says his goal is to "keep busy." Richard Manuel looks lost as he says "I just want to break even." These are two musicians who desperately needed the music, but who were murdered by the road. We see their bleak destinies in their eyes in this film.

It is bittersweet certainly, but also a moment in time, crystallized into something great by the music, the love of friends, the willingness of the director to simply stand back and allow the music to happen. It also reminds us what good music used to sound like and makes me wish could exist again.

43 of 47 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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