Alan Lomax (1915-2002) devoted his life to recording the world's folk tunes before they would permanently disappear with the rise of the modern music industry. In LOMAX THE SONGHUNTER ...
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Alan Lomax (1915-2002) devoted his life to recording the world's folk tunes before they would permanently disappear with the rise of the modern music industry. In LOMAX THE SONGHUNTER filmmaker Rogier Kappers follows the route that Lomax took across America and beyond its borders-traveling to remote villages in Spain and Italy, hearing memories and music from the farmers, shepherds and weavers whose songs Lomax recorded decades earlier. The film also tells Lomax's story by interviewing friends such as Pete Seeger, using archival recordings of music greats Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly, and gathering footage of the cotton fields, rock quarries and prisons where Alan Lomax captured America's quintessential music.
Of course Alan Lomax deserves to be praised for his contributions to American culture. Of course he had some VERY serious flaws, and this show politely indicates some of them. He has also been the subject of very unfair criticism, which the director wisely avoids.
However, I found it immensely disturbing how much footage was devoted to seeing Alan Lomax as he was shortly before he died, with his mind no longer what it had been. For example, the opening shot of his daughter reading his own words to him was painfully gratuitous. He obviously couldn't understand what was going on, but the camera lingered (dare I say, stared?) on him, and far too often throughout the film. If these scenes could be edited out, it would be worth a 9, maybe even 10.
There is much that is good here, though. I particularly liked the scenes where the crew visit people Lomax had recorded many years before in Spain and Italy. And the description of Cantometrics was easy to follow, if a bit simplistic. Maybe something on the Global Jukebox, his last big project?
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