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Leonard Cohen: Live at the Isle of Wight 1970 (2009)

Forty summers ago on a windswept island just off England's southern coastline, a young Canadian folksinger-songwriter-poet-novelist named Leonard Cohen delivered the performance of a lifetime.

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Directed by celebrated British filmmaker Tony Palmer, "Bird on a Wire" follows Cohen on his 1972 European tour. Long lost 16mm prints were restored for this release, not seen since 1972.

Director: Tony Palmer
Stars: Leonard Cohen, Ron Cornelius, Bob Johnston
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Himself (archive footage)
...
Himself
...
Herself
Bob Johnston ...
Himself - Producer & Manager
...
Herself
Ron Cornelius ...
Himself - The Army (archive footage)
Charlie Daniels ...
Himself - The Army (archive footage)
Corlynn Hanney ...
Herself - The Army (archive footage)
Susan Musmanno ...
Herself - The Army (archive footage)
Donna Washburn ...
Herself - The Army (archive footage)
Elkin 'Bubba' Fowler ...
Himself - The Army (archive footage)
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Forty summers ago on a windswept island just off England's southern coastline, a young Canadian folksinger-songwriter-poet-novelist named Leonard Cohen delivered the performance of a lifetime.

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20 October 2009 (USA)  »

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A wonderful time machine for Cohen's fans
7 March 2010 | by (Portland, Oregon, USA) – See all my reviews

Basically footage from a 1970 concert, bookended and interleaved with some context and, thankfully, presented without much evident editing. Some audience scenes are inserted, and some modern interviews, to help set the context. The quality is surprisingly excellent, with very few artifacts of age; the picture and the sound are very clear.

Leonard Cohen has been an important force in music since the 1960s. For those of us who admire him and his work, this is a terrific look at a seemingly fearless performer as he was 40 years ago. His performance is perhaps less polished than now, but the powerful intimacy and kaleidoscopic imagery of his poetry are as affecting as ever. I'm grateful to the makers of this film for bringing this to us.


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