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This world would be poorer without Scorcese's film about the demise of
As advertised (in blurbs), it IS a celebration, but a bitter-sweet one, for there will never be another band/collective comprised of eclectic musicians capable of such an intuitive and heartfelt interpretation of the mid-twentieth-century rural AND urban American musical zeitgeist. But they were more than that.
"The Band" drew succour/inspiration from diverse roots: everything from 18th- /19th-century American folk, to contemporary music of its time which reflected the insecurity of the Vietnam War, changing social mores, and Dylan's plaint that "The Times they are a-changing".
Nothing makes this more plain (and more immediate) than the stellar cast assembled for the concert. There was a query as to why Neil Diamond was invited/attended. The obvious answer is/was that he represents the dying stages of a songwriting clique which will never exist again. Tin Pan Alley has gone, but its legacy is always present: as are the songs...
If one takes the interspersed interviews/dialogue with band members at 'face-value', then they form a picture of a struggling 'road' band which, at any time, could have ceased to exist. But they carried-on regardless and history (well... at least musical history) was made.
The 'boozy'/'stoned' dialogue between Scorcese and the band is also integral to the movie (for such it is). It not only 'humanizes' the narrative but, perhaps, also indicates WHY they were self-destructing.
Regardless of Levon Helm's 'hatchet-job' in his 'tell-all' interviews and autobiography, my (and, I hope, your) appreciation of "The Last Waltz" is that, regardless of detractors, it is quite simply one of the best concert films ever made.
Forget the vituperative and venomous fall-out. Sit back, turn it up loud, and ENJOY.
This celebration concert has all the ingredients to set any sound system on fire and it must be played loud. The Band themselves are simply sensational. Their story is typical of all bands when they start out. Literally stealing for a meal, and playing for love of it and not a chance to make any money. There are other standouts in this DVD and for mine there is always electricity on stage when Eric Clapton steps out. Bob Dylan and Neil Young are great and Joni Mitchell is simply brilliant. This was also my first encounter of Muddy Waters and his performance here has prompted me to go out and buy more. Raw music such as this deserves high status among other great musicians. Growing up as a teenager in the 70's and being a very one eyed roadie for a local Brisbane Band, it was not until the 90's that I started to appreciate the roots of today's music. Why these guys broke up when they were so good will remain a mystery but we will always have The Last Waltz.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
An unmissable classic. Great music played with power & passion,
musicians on top of their game, the great Muddy Waters performing a
marvellous version of Mannish Boy, Rick Danko's vocal on Stagefright,
Levon Helm's throaty roar on The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, This
is Rock music at it's very best.
The first thing you see on screen is 'This film should be played loud' and so it must, turn the volume up and enjoy some amazing performances from some of the greatest artists of all time. One of strong points of this movie is the wide variety of musical styles and so if you appreciate diversity in music this is a movie for all music lovers.
Well, I do, and so should you. If you are young, then watch this and see (and hear) what real music is like. If you are older, then watch this and remember how wonderful it was. There's no point in poking holes in this movie. Just be grateful that Scorsese had enough foresight to get this magnificent concert filmed. I have watched it over almost 30 years, and it just gets better and better. I always turn it on thinking I will just indulge for a few minutes. Every time I end up watching until the end. Maybe if enough people watch this film and understand it, the level of popular music nowadays might actually go up.
The Band was perhaps the greatest musical group to ever write and perform music and The Last Waltz chronicles that fact. However if you want a detailed look into The Band from when they were first The Hawks, then Bob Dylans back-up band to becoming The Band as most people know them, read Levon Helm's book, "This Wheels On Fire". The Last Waltz is a great flick, but most of it was re-dubbed (Except for Helm's drumming and singing) way after it was in the can. Robbie Robertsons microphone was intentionally left off for this concert as Robbie wasn't the best singer and his comments during the film are pretentious at best. Enjoy the music of The Band in this film and see if you can detect the animosity between the rest of The Band members and Robertson during the interviews as Robertson was the one that wanted this flick to happen. He wanted The Band to disband. None of the other members did. And this breakup indirectly was a contributing cause of Richard Manuels death a few years later.
THE LAST WALTZ (1978) **** THE BAND: Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson, Richard Manuel; Special Guests: Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, The Staples Singers, Neil Young, Emmylou Harris, Joni Mitchell, Dr. John, Neil Diamond, Van Morrison, Paul Butterfield, Muddy Waters, Ronnie Hawkins, Ron Wood, Ringo Starr. One of the greatest concert documentaries gets a spiffy new facelift with digitally enhanced sound and a color correction overhaul in Martin Scorsese's lightning-in-a-bottle account of seminal Sixties' rock and roll group, The Band, and their last tour of 16 tumultuous years on the road culminating in a sold-out concert at Bill Grahams' fabled San Francisco venue, The Winterland, with some pure rock, r&b, soul, countrified rock and roll with its all-star collection of music's greatest artists in tribute to a quintet of gifted musicians that truly were pioneers in American music.
This is one of the best things EVER...and I don't just mean in movies. With the exception of Neil Diamond, every single moment of this movie is magnificent. All of my favorite musicians in one rockumentary...The Band, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young. What makes the movie especially enjoyable are the little stories that the different Band members share. It makes them all seem like amazing, fun-loving guys. I was born after this movie was released, so I never got to see the Band perform...so this is as close as I can get. 10/10!
I recommend this film to a) any fans of The Band's music b) to anyone who
values passion in musical performance above technical precision and c) to
anyone who wants to expand their popular music tastes.
I first saw the film when it came out and it opened up several musical doors for me - growing up in an industrial city, I was mainly aware of hard rock and little else. The Waltz opened up blues, country, gospel and soul - the songs featuring individual performers like Muddy Waters and the Staples highlight distinct genres, then the Band performances of Robertson's material show how rock and roll mixes these genres together and makes them into a new brew entirely.
The part of the film that brought it together for me was when Levon Helm called Muddy Waters " the king of country music ". A real revelation.
Even sweeter is the fact that The Band is virtually an all Canadian creation.
This is a great movie . It is a perfect summation of the career of one of the greatest ,if not the greatest, bands of America. Look at the list of guest artists,awesome! Every musical genre is represented .And notice how effortlessly the Band switches musical gears as they back-up each guest! Each member of the Band contributes so much to the whole . Truly a great American band.
Martin Scorsese the one director who can make film sing captures the Band's farewell concert as if it was truly a celebration of musical passion wedded with craftsmanship. Coming along for the ride are some of the finest musicians of the 20th Century: Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young and others. Scorsese's camera sours, tracks and dances around his subjects. The Band members themselves prove to be insightful, honest if rather surely. Their music is as American as a Thomas Hart Benton painting, and as rich. Their musicianship is stunningly played out as they play back up band to the finest musical artists (okay Neil Diamond isn't quite there but who cares). This is not a film to be missed.
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