8.2/10
13,242
115 user 70 critic

The Last Waltz (1978)

A film account and presentation of the final concert of The Band.

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Writer:

(treatment)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Themselves
Rick Danko ...
Himself - Bass / Violin / Vocal
...
Himself - Drums / Mandolin / Vocal
Garth Hudson ...
Himself - Organ / Accordion / Saxophone / Synthesizers
Richard Manuel ...
Himself - Piano / Keyboards / Drums / Vocal
...
Himself - Guitar / Vocal
...
Himself - Performer
...
Himself - Performer
...
Himself - Performer
...
Herself - Performer
...
Himself - Performer
...
Herself - Performer
...
Himself - Performer
Paul Butterfield ...
Himself - Performer
...
Himself - Performer
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Storyline

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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

It Started as a Concert. It Became a Celebration. Now it's a Legend. [theatrical re-release] See more »

Genres:

Documentary | Music

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

26 April 1978 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El último vals  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

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

Gross:

$321,952 (USA) (24 May 2002)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the interview where Helm and Robertson talk about their first time in New York, Robertson states that they stayed in the Times Square Hotel located on 42 Street. The Times Square Hotel is actually located on W. 43 St between 7th and 8th Avenues. The building has since been renovated into apartments but the lobby and most of the building remains true to its hotel roots and is still named the Times Square. See more »

Goofs

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

Quotes

Robbie Robertson - Guitar: Maybe, I don't know if the years connect or its coincidence or what it is, but, it seems like thats it! That's what The Last Waltz is. I mean, 16 years on the road, the numbers start to scare ya. I mean, I couldn't live with 20 years on the road. I don't think I could even discuss it.
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Crazy Credits

At the beginning of the film it just says: "THIS FILM SHOULD BE PLAYED LOUD!" See more »

Connections

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

Soundtracks

Loud Prayer
(poem)
Written and performed by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
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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.


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