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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.
The band is playing in the last concert like they used to.Great music and nice interviews and of course the greatest pop singers of all time.When you see bob dylan play you will see the spirit he has with the band.COOL.There are also good remarks for neil young[althouh not clear],dr john,joni mitchel and muddy waters.For a lot of people the last waltz is the best music document ever.It's also my choice.
The Band plays its final concert in Martin Scorsese's documentary "The
Last Waltz", recorded in San Francisco. Aside from getting to hear the
Band and numerous other great performers (Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell,
Ringo Starr and Neil Young, to name a few), the documentary is also a
look back at an era gone by. Among other things, the layered hairdos
that they have look a lot better than the spiked hair that we see
It just goes to show that even if that specific era has passed, the music will never die. This documentary is nostalgia in its best form. May the Band's work be remembered forever! I recommend "The Last Waltz" to everyone.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Director Martin Scorsese is arguably one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, he is output in the Seventies is unparalleled. The Band are to music what Scorsese is to cinema, original, visionary, and uncompromising. As you could imagine this team-up clearly results in one of the greatest experiences in the history of popular culture. Whether you are a fan of The Band or not doesn't matter at all. Ten minutes into this film and you will be mesmerized. Scorsese is completely respectful and admirable in his filming of The Band's final concert, and the subsequent interviews. The roster of guest's at the concert only add to the once in lifetime experience of this film. The Last Waltz is as deep and emotional as anything Scorsese has ever made in his career, and his enthusiasm for the music really comes alive in the set pieces with The Staple's, and Emmylou Harris respectfully. The bottom line is, if you even remotely care for music or film, see The Last Waltz and be hearkened back to a time and place when both music and film actually meant something. See it now, you won't regret it.
This is a documentary of one concert, The Band's final concert,
interspersed with mildly interesting interviews. They are very talented
traditional rock musicians, but unless you're a fairly big fan of their
music you'll probably end up bored with this movie. Or, if it's on TV,
you'll be flipping around to other channels to see if anything better
For exaggerated reasons that frustrate me, this film is constantly listed among the greatest rock-documentaries of all time. It's not. Perhaps it's over-rated simply because Scorcese directed it. Perhaps it's overrated because some of the camera angles are pretty cool. Perhaps it's overrated because of all the big-name musical guests who appear. But, none of the guests are in their prime, save Dr. John who never seems to age and Neil Young who never seems to change. But, still it's not their best performances. And The Band needs guests to sustain interest. Afterall, this is "The Band" so-named only in relation to other musicians-- their major claim to fame is that they played as Bob Dylan's backup band in the 1960s. Robbie Robertson is handsome, but a terrible singer. The guitar parts are boring (One Dylan biography even described The Band's inability to intuitively jam on stage when Dylan began noodling on his guitar), yet their playing ignores the folk and blues derived melodies, and the originals all sound alike.
The film is highlighted, musically, by Dr. John smiling and playing piano, Muddy Waters standing there and singing on The Band's lackluster performance of "Who Do You Love," Bob Dylan's cool hat, Emmylou Harris looking pretty during a rehearsal, The Staple Singers stealing the show on "The Weight" (it's hilarious when the film goes back to the band, when the bass-player sings the verse, he looks so unprofessional and goofy in comparison to the Staples' authentic soul. The Staples really helped the set!), Joni Mitchell's weird, aimless song, and that's about it. Van Morrison looks fat and miserable. Neil Diamond sings an old classic of his without verve or variation (or movement). Neil Young seems distracted during his dull performance (but Scorcese doesn't even show the cocaine on his nose). And, the best part is probably the encore-scene, just the Band playing "Greensleeves" on old-timey instruments while the credits role. But it's only the names that appear that are historic, none of the performances are really historic. I guarantee this film won't last. It's all hype. It's not interesting enough (and The Band is not charismatic enough) to sustain itself through generations.
There are some kinda-amusing, but overall meaningless anecdotes told by The Band during interviews, placed in between songs... but mostly it's just them jabbering about their embarrassingly half-thought ideas about the world (While not quite as stupid-sounding as the parody-interviews in "This Is Spinal Tap," Robbie Robertson still does come off as a high-blown dumbass) and why the music they like is the best music in the world, which is supposed to give credence to their overall-mediocre originals.
Also, what's with the confederate flag hanging behind them in their kitchen, or trailer, or wherever it is they're being interviewed. They're from Canada! (Except for Levon Helms, who plays his drums hunched over like a praying mantis-- cute.) Are we supposed to like these guys? The Last Waltz truly exposes them as a bunch of derivative, blown-up musical hacks who possess both fake accents and a freakish obsession with the American south.
There is talent on display in "The Last Waltz," and often, but unfortunately it's usually it's aimless and floundering. The overall affect can be boredom if you're not already a hardcore fan. However, the documentary is a worthwhile watch if you're bored or interested in learning the stories behind rock bands.
Dylan never even considered these guys his best backup band. He knew.
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