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This documented the production of the soundtrack for Werner Herzog's film GRIZZLY MAN and was included as an extra on that DVD. I found this short documentary as intriguing and interesting as the longer main attraction. Herzog and company assembled a small group of musicians who had not, featuring Richard Thompson as the main guitar soloist. Not only had they not worked together before, but their genre and disciplines were dissimilar. A typical soundtrack would be produced in the studio only after a composer has first drafted a score, but Herzog wanted this group to arrive unprepared and develop the music together from the ground up. It was a very interesting process to watch as they experimented and made decisions about instrumentation. Although Herzog is no musician he was integral to the process and sat with them to described the various moods and styles he wanted. He also spoke briefly about his goals as a film-maker, the relationship between film and music as art forms, and of the creative process in general. Particularly impressive was a segment where Thompson was given various tasks to improvise very precisely-timed interludes. "This time we want exactly 22 seconds... " "Alright, now do a variation of that theme for 36 seconds, but re-tune one of your strings to a different key..." "This next one has to run 64 seconds." (Thompson quipped, "you're sure it's not 64.2 seconds?")
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Erik Nelson's documentary on manufacturing the soundtrack for Werner Herzog's documentary about a nut who fed himself to a grizzly bear does NOT build to a carnivorous climax. In fact, there is no climactic peak of any kind here. Musicologists may find some of the early going of interest, such as when pianist Jim O'Rourke "customizes" the sound of his instrument by wedging paperclips and screws on or between its strings about 29 minutes into this jam session. However, though heavily sanitized (no F-words, for instance, and no defecating in the big bear fight scene), the clips from GRIZZLY MAN are not only more compelling than anything else here, but they make the rest of IN THE EDGES seem pretty trivial to anyone not a family member of the musicians pictured. The last 10 minutes--mostly featuring Werner Herzog smirking like a goof ball at music's edge--are most likely to leave viewers hungering to watch Yogi eat Barney Rubble instead.
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