|Index||3 reviews in total|
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.
In 1970,documentary film maker Murray Lerner ('Festival','Jimi Hendrix At The Isle Of Wight',etc.)and his crew had the good fortune to be able to fly to the south of England,on the Isle of Wight to film the U.K.'s answer to Woodstock,The Isle Of Wight concert. What they got, besides hours & hours of incredible music,was the dark side of the festival,as well (riots,drug bummers,bad vibes,political subterfuge,mostly centered around gate crashers who just didn't want to cough up the three to five pounds to get into the festival,and copped the attitude that "music belongs to the people,man,so we should not have to pay"). All of this footage was assembled into a three hour plus feature film that sadly was pulled from being distributed,no thanks to the power that be,at that time (yeah,I'm talking about the corporate ambulance chasers working for the record companies that wanted a major piece of the pie). As a result,all of that footage sat in a can for twenty,plus years. Flash forward to twenty,plus years later. Murray Lerner's now legendary film of the Isle of Wight concert is trickling out,a little at a time. Here,we get to see Leonard Cohen's four a.m. set. A rumpled,unkempt,unshaven Cohen takes the stage,including his back up band (including a then unknown Charlie Daniels on fiddle,guitar & bass guitar),and manages to have the sleepy eyed crowd in the palm of his/their hand,starting with familiar L.C. anthems such as Bird on a wire,Suzanne,So Long,Marianne,and others. In between songs (and alas,sometimes during songs),we are availed to commentary by the likes of Joan Baez,Judy Collins & Kris Kristofferson,who also performed at the festival,but this does not hamper the film (much,anyway). Fans of Cohen,who are only familiar with his songs within the last ten,to fifteen years will be in for quite a treat. Not rated by the MPAA,this film has some brief,strong language,but little else to offend
I only recently got in Leonard Cohen. Sure, I had heard of him from some minor airplay on college radio with songs like I'm Your Man and First, We Take Manhattan but I wasn't thrilled by his flat and monotonic vocals just like I was not really into Dylan but as I have reached an older age(50), I realized how powerful and deeply these men wrote and performed the songs that I can only now fully appreciate. This concert film was a revelation to me and after learning that so much chaos and disharmony had risen from the discontent from many who felt the greed of concert promoters and ticket sellers(much like what happened at Woodstock), I was amazed at how respectful the crowd was while Cohen performed. Was the crowd sleepy, worn out from the hysteria of a Jimi Hendrix set? Were they tired of the fight that they had endured to see this concert? Perhaps. And perhaps Leonard Cohen was the perfect medicine to sedate and harmonize that huge restless crowd that balmy windy night on the Isle of Wight. Take it in and realize that you have witnessed a miracle.
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