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

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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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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

The Waltz, like the Road, goes on Forever

Author: pwoods1 from Adelaide, South Australia
6 April 2006

This world would be poorer without Scorcese's film about the demise of "The Band".

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.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

I Shall Be Released

Author: Peter Walden from Brisbane Australia
4 January 2006

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.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:


Author: peterreb from Ireland
12 November 2005

*** 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.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Who wants to watch a bunch of old rockers?

Author: jshaffer-1 from United States
30 April 2005

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.

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