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For those of you who are fans of The Band, you will be in hog heaven whilst watching this film. For the rest of us, well, the photography is beautiful and occasionally the music matches it. Personal highlights would be Muddy Waters singing I'm A Man, The Staple Singers, Ronnie Hawkins performing Who Do You Love, and Doctor John.
Of opera, a friend of mine once said: 'If you see La Boheme and don't
like it then you can know with absolute certainty that you will not
like any opera'. The same can be said of 'The Last Waltz' and the music
of The Band in general. If you don't like The Band, forget all the rest
because, compared to The Band, the rest is, to varying degrees, a step
All the good stuff has been said more eloquently than I could so I will just make a couple of comments. In the movie, Robertson pretty much laid it on the line as to why he was breaking The Band up: he couldn't take life on the road anymore. Yes, I am sure he has an ego and who doesn't? But who can fault a man for wanting a normal life? And then there is Rick Danko. Has there ever been a more endearing performer in the history of rock 'n roll? And yet, he was addicted to drugs and died before his time. Think of the emotional energy that they were required to put out for every gig and then think of 100 or so gigs per year for 16 years. Is it any wonder that they needed to wind down afterward? It was and is an inevitable component of this type of music and a pretty good base from which to argue that, for all of its beauty, it probably would have been better had rock 'n roll never happened. All the art in the world is not worth one human life.
Just a comment about many of the previous posts mentioning this
documentary as the last bastion of music before commercialization.
On one hand, I agree. "Radio" which pre-defines popular music today, pushes music to us that steals raw emotion and soul from the listening experience.
However, there is an abundance of great music that while not commercially successful in many cases (if you define successful by ratings on Top 40 radio) still exists and actually influences many of us out there today.
If you are a fan of The Band and the other performers in The Last Waltz support bands like Widespread Panic, Gov't Mule, Donna the Buffalo, Railroad Earth, Tea Leaf Green and many, many others.
The music lives on! These just aren't obscure bands that play in my neighborhood. All can be found on iTunes. Support the bands that make real music.
With the Internet there is no need to decry the end of great music and terrific musicians. Only apathy. It exists and it's not that hard to find. The Good Ole' Days argument doesn't work anymore.
This movie moves me every time. It is incredible from start to finish.
Most people read the guest star list and think "wow, all these famous people! How did the Band get them to play!?" It is the opposite, however. EVERYONE in 60s and 70s non-pop music knew The Band - and wanted to play with them.
How is such a well respected band not widely known by the public? Everyone in rock during the 70s knew this band, and wanted to be them! Clapton said that he left Cream hoping desperately to join The Band, who turned him down.
The Band is not well known, aside from those who really know music. They are probably most famous for The Weight, and for being Bob Dylan's band. They are, however, deserving of their very own prominent place in music history.
These men are incredibly talented and funny. It is great to watch their interactions and stories during the interview portions. They have obviously grown together as a family. I find the interview portions as fun to watch as the music, as they give these great men depth.
The music is of course fantastic. Watch Levon Helm sing as he is drumming as if it is effortless! He is incredible! This movie has the BEST version ever of The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down. And the Clapton-Robertson guitar "battle" is legendary.
I recommend this film to all of my friends, and everyone has fallen in love with The Band. Rightfully so.
Some of the most inspired creative minds of the 20th century together for an evening at San Francisco's Winterland, filmed by another inspired creative mind, Martin Scorsese, make this the definitive rock concert movie, even better than "Woodstock," and that's saying a lot. All the music is out of this world and in some heavenly Elysian fields of rock 'n' roll. One seldom mentioned gem from the concert is Ronnie Hawkins' rendition of Bo Diddley's best song, "Who Do You Love," with emphasis on hoodoo. Not only does Ronnie let out with one of his primordial sexual screams but Robbie Robertson does truly amazing guitar breaks throughout this escapee from a rock asylum of primitive raw power and sexual yearning. Another of the many treasures is the dual between Eric Clapton and Robbie Robertson, two masters at work rivaling who can do more hot licks than the other. Then you have the elegant Joni Mitchell fusing some otherworldly type jazz with rock and folk, the indefatigable Neil Young, the unpredictable Bob Dylan, and don't forget the Band's magnificent drummer-singer Levon Helm, who pours his entire life and soul into his music. Even Neil Diamond is not as jejune as he usually was by 1976. Just when you think you've seen it all, up steps the legendary Muddy Waters to show you how it's really done. What can I say. Go watch this movie. See and hear for yourself what God has wrought.
I don't know how I missed seeing this film before! Where has it been...or where have I been!!! It was like falling asleep and waking up young again! If someone grew up in this era, this film will be a little bit of Heaven. If not, watch and learn! It's wonderful that so many of the songs from this era are being used in more modern films. We all know it's partially because we are the abundant "baby boomer's" and "they" are trying to make money off us. But I like to think that it is largely because the music was so good-the musicians and writers were gifted. No one can play a guitar or bang a drum like these guys! The music from this time lives on and many of the musicians are still going strong.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
My hat goes off to Martin Scorcese for giving the world such a
beautiful film about rock music. It's among the finest music films out
there. Rather than just showing five guys on a stage just playing their
hits, the film goes deeper and allows for members of the Band to tell
their stories as well as play some truly amazing tunes. The overall
effect is to build a connection between the musicians and the audience,
and that connection is certainly there.
The music itself cannot be ignored. The Band employs around a dozen guests to help them celebrate their final concert (of their original line-up). All the guests are in fine form. Dr. John does an excellent performance of "Such a Night" as well as Neil Young and Joni Mitchell doing "Helpless." The film is packed with great performances from both the guests and the Band, with the members of the latter burning through such favourites as "Up on Cripple Creek," "It Makes No Difference," and "Stage Fright." If there is one bad thing about this film it is that it is too short. Also, most of the spotlight is on Robbie Robertson. Very little camera time is put to Garth Hudson or Richard Manuel. But these can all be ignored because the film is still amazing anyway. So, if you are a fan of rock music and still haven't heard of this trailblazing film or seen it, by all means go out and watch it.
I had never heard of The Band before seeing this. Nor was I aware of the
pedigree behind it. Directed by Martin Scorsese on the coattails of his 1977
flop NEW YORK, NEW YORK (the film which was predicted to be the blockbuster
of that year, before a low-budget movie called STAR WARS decided to take
control!!) it is as far away from that movie as you can expect, but it is a
fitting and touching document to a band who were for years in the shadow of
Bob Dylan and became legends through sheer hard work and excellent musical
It first emerged as part of a BBC ROCK WEEK season in the late summer of 1982 (along with the likes of TOMMY and a MAZE - LIVE IN NEW ORLEANS concert) and from the minute I saw it for the first time, I was hooked on it, to the degree that I have seen it dozens of times and managed to also catch it at an NFT screening about four years ago.
Intercutting the songs with interviews with the Band members, reminiscing about their origins (early tales are particular funny!! with the highlights of the show (which went on for four hours in total compared to the highlights edited in the film) THE LAST WALTZ gives a rare insight into a musical group on the road and is a lesson to people of more recent successes (U2 - RATTLE AND HUM's Phil Joanou, take note again!!!)
Still the best, still 'the' Band....
Classic rock-n-roll, earthy blues, legendary artists and unprecedented
talent. One wish from this
guitar player: to experience the show even for one minute... well, maybe
WHOLE show. Rent it, but better yet, OWN it! Hah, a birthday gift for
take it easy! enjoy it.
Watched on AMC tonight and after all these years the music is and the artists are the best ever. Thank you Mr. Scorsese for this film and a tip of the glass to those that have passed on. God Bless all of you and the beautiful music you've left us.
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