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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
One of the best, simplest, and most joyous films ever made
In the words of Robbie Robertson, "The Last Waltz" began as a concert and turned into a celebration. There is no word that can be used to describe "The Last Waltz" better than 'celebration'. This is a celebration of The Band, and of music, specifically American music, which The Band loved and played so many styles of.
"The Last Waltz" is a concert film, and there's a common sentiment outside of the rock fan community that such films can never be true art films. If proof exists that this is not true, "The Last Waltz" is it. The film is brilliantly directed by Martin Scorsese, who captures this incredibly powerful and remarkable performance with skill that can't be described as anything other than amazing. This film looks absolutely stunning. What else can one ask for other than a film that looks pristine and beautiful, and contains some of the best music ever written? Scorsese is a smart filmmaker and knows that he could add to the film by including short interview segments with the members of The Band, all of which are relevant to and enhance the film.
The beauty of "The Last Waltz" is its simplicity. The Band were probably the most unpretentious major musical group there has ever been. They were interested in nothing other than playing good music, and Scorsese, at least in this instance, is not interested in doing anything other than creating a simple, true document of a memorable, great musical event. That's what he does, he captures a brilliant concert where the addition of celebrity musical guests does not cheapen it at all, but makes it a true celebration of music. Muddy Waters, Paul Butterfield, Joni Mitchell, Neil Diamond, Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, Dr. John, Neil Young... the list goes on and on.
Phenomenal musicianship, phenomenal film-making, a phenomenal film all around. One of the best and most joyous films ever made.
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