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The Last Waltz
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Last Waltz More at IMDbPro »

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

A wonderful documentary and a wonderful movie

Author: Baldrick44 from Brisbane, Australia
4 February 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie is perhaps one of the best music documentaries ever made. It's an incredible tribute to these five musicians and their ability to not only play by themselves but also back up some of the biggest names in popular music, including Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young. If it was merely a video about the concert, the movie would have good enough but the interviews taken a few days afterwards tell a story of their own which show the interesting story behind the Band. It is a shame though that the movie seems to focus so much on Levon Helm and Robbie Robertson in particular, as the shots with Rick Danko, Garth Hudson and Richard Manuel seemed to tell a story that could only be half told as a result. One of the most touching moments in the interviews is when Danko is showing Scorsese around the studio and telling him how he's trying to "keep busy". It is easy to see from these sort of moments why Robertson says at the end of the film why the road is "a goddamn impossible way of life." This is a movie for any lover of good music as it shows the story behind one of the most influential groups of the time and the respect they had from their peers.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Great Music From All Involved

Author: Michael_Elliott from Louisville, KY
28 December 2011

Last Waltz, The (1978)

**** (out of 4)

Martin Scorsese's terrific documentary covering The Band's farewell performance at the Warfield in San Francisco on Thanksgiving Day 1976. The pure size of this concert is something rather amazing. Not only do you get The Band doing their classics but they're joined on stage by the likes of Ronnie Hawkins (Who Do You Love), Neil Young (Helpless), Dr. John (Such a Night), Neil Diamond (Dry Your Eyes), Joni Mitchell (Coyote), Muddy Waters (Mannish Boy), Eric Clapton (Further On Up the Road), Van Morrison (Caravan) and a large finale with Bob Dylan (Forever Young, Baby Let Me Follow You Down, I Shall Be Released). Among The Band's classics are Up on Cripple Creek, Stagefright, The Shape I'm In, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down and a studio version of The Weight. Strictly speaking of the music, it's clearly wonderful with everyone giving it their all and clearly they all know that they're involved in something extremely special. Some of the highlights include Young's "Helpless", Muddy Water's "Mannish Boy" and of course the finale with Bob Dylan who had used The Band (known as The Hawks) as his backup band and also used them for the album Planet Waves. The second aspect of the film are the interviews that Scorsese does with the group, which covers the start of their career, the girls on the road, their influences and even some moments which are clearly dark times for the group including why this was going to be the final show. I've heard many people talk about how depressing the film is because you are actually seeing their last show but while it's true it sucks the group never got back together, I think it's a little unfair to blame the movie. The movie is technically brilliant on all levels and you really have to give Scorsese and company credit for being able to pull it off. Of course, your appreciation of The Band's music is probably going to determine how much of this you actually enjoy. If you're a fan then this film is almost like a dream and especially with all of the talent involved.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

The Band gone, never forgotten!

Author: nixskits from Canada
6 December 2009

It's hard to imagine a better film about music after watching this. There's so much love from all involved of the sounds people create when getting together and making harmony happen with voices and/or instruments. The director Martin Scorsese, The Band themselves, their special guests and the crowd, apparently not one of whom left the venue before the final encore (ironically, the first song in the film).

So many great talents are on display here, this movie could have been nine hours and I wouldn't have left the theatre at all (except for a quick bathroom break). The commentaries, both of them, are worth hearing, especially as you watch the movie. The years since this concert just add to the overall appreciation one should have for everybody that took part in this amazing event.

"The Last Waltz" is kind of like the "Raging Bull" of concert films. The only thing that could really stop The Band were themselves. Playing for so many years without a break must take a toll on anyone. But the state of mind they were in by 1976 makes me wonder if Jake La Motta felt the same way about boxing at the end of his run as the only fighter who couldn't be knocked down.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

absolutely brilliant

Author: disdressed12 from Canada
3 August 2009

this documentary chronicling the last concert of the rock group the Band,directed by Martin Scorsese is nothing short of brilliant.the music is(not only from the Band,but from guest performers)is first rate.the movie flows perfectly and when it was over,i couldn't believe how quickly the time seemed to go.and i wished it hadn't ended.i'm no filmmaker,but i do know that Scorsese seems to capture the essence of the show perfectly,all the cameras in the right angles.the lighting was also perfect,which is a testament to he lighting crew.the sound crew also outdid themselves.i thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of this documentary.for me,The Last Waltz is an easy 10/10

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

the last hurrah

Author: tracyfigueira from United States
4 May 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Back before disco, back before punk, back before MTV, music didn't suck. At least not like it does today. Youngsters who cut their teeth on Britney Spears wouldn't know a good tune if it jumped out and clubbed them on their heads. I know I sound like an old geezer, but bear with me. The Band was one of my two favorite rock 'n' roll groups of all time (the other is the Doors) and their farewell concert, staged at San Francisco's Winterland on Thanksgiving, 1976, may well have been the definitive moment of rock 'n' roll history, much more than Woodstock, Altamount, or even Elvis's first appearance on Ed Sullivan. Probably no musicians in history received as much hatred as The Band, who became a lightning rod for folk music purists who blamed them for Bob Dylan's defection. By 1976, however, the early 60s folk revival was little more than a footnote in music history. Although Dylan's set closed the show, he and The Band shared the spotlight with a veritable Who's Who of music greats: Neil Young, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Eric Clapton, Doctor John, Neil Diamond (I normally cannot stand him--I loved his set here!), Muddy Waters, and the man who gave The Band their start, rockabilly great Ronnie Hawkins (The Band started out as the Hawks). The film contains several musical highlights not part of the actual concert, which were filmed on a soundstage later (Emmylou Harris, the Staple Family). Director Martin Scorcese's backstage interviews are humorous and nostalgic but leave unsaid the friction and inner turmoil that led to The Band's break-up. This is a great film with great music. What more needs to be said?

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Great Rock Film

Author: tes918 from United States
7 June 2008

I have to agree that Scorsese has made the finest of all rock movies I have watched the movie in its entirety and individual performances many times. If nothing else it shows these great performers in their prime when they looked and sounded their best Van Morrison, Neil Young, Eric Clampton, Ron Wood and of course The Band and all the rest. It is hard to believe that 30 years have past since this film was made and I have to say I get a very melancholy feeling watching these guys perform in this time-locked film. Some are gone and the ones still around have aged, as we all have, but when I put "The Last Waltz" on my DVD player they all come back to life looking and sounding fantastic.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

They Don't Write Songs Like This Anymore

Author: alr126 from United States
29 July 2007

I first saw this film on its original theatrical release in Dallas, TX, 1978. Now watching it for the umpeenth time now, 2007, in Philadelphia, PA and this is one of those "timeless classics" that never gets old.

The artists far outweigh any of the new talent coming into play currently. Please do not misunderstand me, I am a huge fan of Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, etc., but, I think that Clapton, The Band, Dylan, EmmyLou Harris, Joni Mitchell, et al, are the essence of music.

Perhaps because I grew up with them, As I sit here on my sofa listening to Dylan, it brings back memories of numerous concerts, etc, that just cn't be relived nowadays.

I find this film a true trip into the past of fond memories and classic music. This film will remain forever a classic history of Rock and Roll legends and should not be missed.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

The idea that you need to play this music LOUD is just plain

Author: badtothebono from shaking my head
1 October 2006

STUPID. LOUD is for music that actually kinda stinks when you can hear all the nuances and LOUD is for people who spent too much time standing next to speakers at concerts. Playing the band LOUD is like drinking a fine wine COLD. Just STUPID. I dock this 2 points for that stupidity. Other than that, I'll take off another point for too much talking & too little strummin. Plus, I know Muddy Waters is an original, but I'm A Man really isn't that great a tune. I'm into that style, and even I get tired of I'm A Man 1/2way through. And does J Mitchell ever smile? Is that ten lines yet. Supercalifragilisticexbealidocious or something like that. I gotta go meet an ambidextrous sesquipedalian.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

"The End of An Era"

Author: JohnnyPistols from United States
9 July 2006

Robbie Robertson remembers calling this film back in 1976 a document of an end of an era and how ridiculous it was to call it that when all the performers in it were still so young. The film is truly a magnum opus for these performers as it celebrates the end for the Band, a band who legendarily made music with greats such as Bob Dylan, Muddy Waters, George Harrison, Eric Clapton and more. The majority of these performers, and more, came out to pay their respect to the Band and celebrate the music.

Whilst backstage it was reportedly a cocaine frenzy, on stage some beautiful music was being made at the concert. Performers diverse as Neil Young, Neil Diamond, Ronnie Hawkins, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton, Dr. John, Paul Butterfield, Van Morrison, etc. played with the Band and poets such as Michael McClure came on stage and gave readings.

Another gem of this film is the interviews that Scorsese conducted with different members of the Band and them as a whole as well as the music that was made off the stage (they said that the concert was too long as it was and that they would perform with other artists for the film)with such legends as the Staple Singers and Emmylou Harris. And also the actual waltz that Robbie Robertson composed is brilliant and haunting. Definitely recommended for someone looking to enjoy a great night of musical history and the thoughts and opinions of legends on music.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

This film should be played LOUD!

Author: Andy (film-critic) from Bookseller of the Blue Ridge
1 June 2006

I have had the opportunity to read several reviews concerning Scorsese's documentary aptly titled The Last Waltz. There are many critics out there that denounce Scorsese for showing so much favoritism to non-leader Robbie Robertson on-screen both during the interviews as well as the concert. I have read other critics who hate the way that Scorsese edited this film, bringing a Hollywood element to something that was purely anti-The Establishment. Then there are others that see this film as a farce. The Band may well still be together if it weren't for this film and the persistence of Robbie Robertson. As I watched this film a second time, I could not imagine anything further from the truth. The Last Waltz was a near flawless documentary that did exactly what it promised … it coupled amazing music (perhaps one of our last glances of a now commercialized industry) with talented performers and the giants of the scene paying respects to one of their own, The Band. Scorsese opens this film with bold wording that I believe summarizes this entire documentary as a whole. Those words are: THIS FILM SHOULD BE PLAYED LOUD! An accurate way to tell if a music documentary is succeeding is by turning the television off, but leaving the sound on. If you are still enjoying the music at the end, the documentary has succeeded.

The music if flawless in The Last Waltz. In fact, it is due to this film that I purchased the full recording of that infamous night. I wanted to hear Van Morrison's soulful voice again, I wanted to hear the strangely added Neil Diamond song (which now seems to be relevant in my mind), and I wanted to hear The Staples putting the song "The Weight" into a whole new galaxy. Neil Young's performance with Joni Mitchell in the background still continues to haunt me days after I finished watching the film. The ability to see the entire range of The Band in just a short 117 minutes is an astonishing feat. Scorsese did it. What makes The Last Waltz groundbreaking is the passion of Scorsese. I was worried at first that there would be less music and more spoken word from the band (which I could handle, if it weren't so much of Robbie Robertson), but Scorsese kept true to The Band, giving us more moments of song than "dance". For those technical junkies out there, sure, Scorsese blatantly favored Robertson more than the rest of the band, but this newbie didn't care. I was there for the music. For half of this film I closed my eyes and allowed, maybe for the first time, my ears to critic this film. What I experienced was a moment in music history that my generation will never experience, unless Coke has their corporate logo right above our artist's heads.

There are two people that I would like to give a bit of recognition to as I watched The Last Waltz. The first is the cinematographer Michael Chapman for his ability to bring a crisp, smooth, young feel to this film. Other music documentaries that I have seen typically are grainy and choppy at best, feeling as if you are sitting in the classic "obstructed view" seating of the concert. Not with The Last Waltz. Here, we are right up next to The Band. Impressively, and what I believe brought so much emotion to the songs that they were singing, was actually seeing their expressions on their faces as they sang or played their instrument. I felt like I was right up there with Danko, Helm, Hudson, Robertson, and Manuel. I also felt extremely excited each time a new guest would appear to join The Band with one of their songs. This excitement could only have been built by good music, strong direction, and powerful, captivating cinematography. Check on all three counts. The second person that I would like to give recognition to is Levon Helm. His vocals, passion, and dedication to each song inspired me. He seemed, and felt, more like the leader of this band than the apparent Robertson was. He seemed secluded, content, and when he hit those drums my heart would beat. This man is a music God. Did anyone else witness what he did on that Mandolin? Priceless.

Overall, this was a superb film that should be shown to every wanna-be musician out there in the world. I am tired of American Idol or millionaire teens telling me what I have to listen to and how I could never relate to it. Sure, maybe I am getting old, but that should not mean that the music needs to die. Scorsese preserved an infamous night in history. It is no Woodstock, but it was a photo finish. There was one moment in this film that really made me see the change of musicians in our modern society. The Band was on the road for sixteen years, and was finally calling it quits. I pose this test to you readers out there. Can you name one group within the past 10 years that has continued to tour time after time? Mr. Matthews comes to mind, but outside of that, I don't expect Jessica Simpson to keep her popularity going. If anything I would like to say "Thank You" to both The Band and Scorsese for making this project. If it weren't for them I would still be grumpily listening to the newest Shakira song wondering where music devolved. Now, my CD player enjoys this album. "The Weight" is still my favorite song on the album, but it is a near photo finish with the haunting Neil Young song. What a talented bunch of musicians that traveled, played for their fans, and sang about life. What more can you ask for?

Grade: ***** out of *****

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