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The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town (2010)

7.6
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 322 users  
Reviews: 6 user | 5 critic

Takes us into the studio with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band for the recording of their fourth album.

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Title: The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town (2010)

The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town (2010) on IMDb 7.6/10

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Directors: Meiert Avis, Adam Bernstein, and 13 more credits »
Stars: Bruce Springsteen, Roy Bittan, Clarence Clemons
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Cast

Credited cast:
Mike Appel ...
Himself - Manager 1972-1977
Roy Bittan ...
Himself - E Street Band
...
Himself - E Street Band
Obie Dziedzic ...
Herself (archive footage)
The E Street Band ...
Themselves
Danny Federici ...
Himself - E Street Band
...
Himself - Recording Engineer
Jon Landau ...
Himself - Manager-Producer
Nils Lofgren ...
Himself - E Street Band
Thom Panunzio ...
Himself - Recording Engineer
Chuck Plotkin ...
Himself - Mixer
Patti Scialfa ...
Herself - E Street Band
Toby Scott ...
Himself
...
Herself
...
Himself
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Storyline

Bruce Springsteen's "Darkness on the Edge of Town," released in 1978, was three years in the making, 10 songs chosen from 70 written and rehearsed during that period. Using archival footage from the studio and contemporary interviews with Springsteen, the E Street Band, and those who were in the control room, the film presents a portrait of an artist driving himself to capture working-class life with a rough and raw sound that felt more like a live performance than a studio recording. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Documentary | Music

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7 October 2010 (USA)  »

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References The Searchers (1956) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Some Production Shortcomings But Otherwise Incredible
24 May 2011 | by (Fort Wayne, Indiana) – See all my reviews

Like the bulk of music fans from my generation, my first impression of Bruce Springsteen was established when I was young, back when Bruce was doing the Born in the USA thing. He'd stick his underbite way out, wear skin tight jeans and headbands, stomp around on stage riffing like he was in a hair band, ride those cheesy synthlines, etc. Needless to say, I wrote the guy off before I was in high school and even figured him for some sort of idiot savant. By the time I was 20 or so I was a fan of his music, surely; but not until I saw director Thom Zimny's The Promise: The Making of the Darkness on the Edge of Town did I realize that, in his day, Bruce was as cool as anyone, and an all-around brilliant man of deep artistry.

The bulk of Zimny's film is comprised of archival footage of Bruce and The E Street Band following the worldwide success of their previous album, Born to Run. Overnight, it seemed, Bruce had become a household name. His working class background forever lingering, Bruce saw the opportunity to make something that was not just better than Born to Run, but different. Next came the notebooks, then the songs, then the rehearsals, then the recording. Then more recording. Then more writing. Eventually Bruce and his band had 70+ new songs to choose from, 10 of which ended up on his now-classic Darkness record. Thanks for Zimny's film, we get to see the whole process, mixed up with recent footage of the band reflecting on the Darkness era.

The Promise is one of the 10 best music docs I've ever seen, telling a great story that focuses on a great – and brilliant – leading man. The movie reminds me quite a bit of Sam Jones' film about Wilco, I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, but with a much cooler focus and much cheesier production. Had the producers and director done a better job of mixing the old footage with the new (and not used every cliché doc trick in the book), this would've been a near-perfect movie. Still, though, it's a must-see for fans of rock n' roll, pop culture, songwriting or film in general.

The movie is an amazing document of a brilliant writer, music mind, band leader and thinker who was working in his artistic prime. I still can't say much for the pop star 80s version of Bruce, but damn if the struggling back alley artist of the 70s wasn't as good as they came. This film will stand as the one of the essential pieces to the Art of Bruce.

Read more of my music- and film-related writing at ZeCatalist.com.


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Wonderful bird's eye view documentary! BaronMoritani

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