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Emmylou Harris: From a Deeper Well (2004)

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Documentary

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9 March 2004 (USA)  »

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Love Hurts
Written by Felice Bryant and Boudleaux Bryant
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Affectionate and interesting documentary charting Harris' career
19 March 2008 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Away on a work trip recently we were discussing the modern "list" topic of "what's on your iPod". The conversation turned to Emmylou Harris and I was surprised to find that out of 4 Europeans, all had good things to say about her. I'd only watched one live film of her to make my judgement so I decided to come back to her again by watching this film to aid my understanding. Screened by BBC4 as part of a night of programme dedicated to her, A Deeper Well does a better job than the 10 Commandments of Country because it is more of a true documentary.

It starts with her as a child and looks at her background, following her career through key stages, successes as well as some high-profile failures. The approach is solid, providing some detail but never too much and generally delivering everything with the air of a friend – kind but not afraid to be honest where required. What helped it most of all though were the contributions. Mostly these are relevant and well used by being kept to the point, punchy and short. Harris herself has much to say and it is clear she sat down to make this film rather than have soundbites from interviews cobbled together into one film (as I have seen some films do with film stars for example). She is disarmingly honest and sweet and her contribution helps add value to the story. The music is well used as well, it isn't rammed down our throats I assume because the makers know that few non-fans will be watching. However it does provide a solid background and it made me understand what made her so popular a lot better than seeing her do a few songs live did. I may now check out one of her albums.

Overall then an affectionate and friendly film that is interesting and quite engaging. Of course it helps to be a fan and if you hate her and her genre then it will not work for you but, as a casual viewer, I found it to be interesting.


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