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The Last Waltz (1978)

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A film account and presentation of the final concert of The Band.

Director:

Martin Scorsese

Writer:

Mardik Martin (treatment)
2 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
The Band ... Themselves
Rick Danko Rick Danko ... Himself - Bass / Violin / Vocal
Levon Helm ... Himself - Drums / Mandolin / Vocal
Garth Hudson Garth Hudson ... Himself - Organ / Accordion / Saxophone / Synthesizers
Richard Manuel Richard Manuel ... Himself - Piano / Keyboards / Drums / Vocal
Robbie Robertson ... Himself - Guitar / Vocal
Eric Clapton ... Himself - Performer
Neil Diamond ... Himself - Performer
Bob Dylan ... Himself - Performer
Joni Mitchell ... Herself - Performer
Neil Young ... Himself - Performer
Emmylou Harris ... Herself - Performer
Ringo Starr ... Himself - Performer
Paul Butterfield Paul Butterfield ... Himself - Performer
Dr. John ... Himself - Performer
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Storyline

Thanksgiving, 1976, San Francisco's Winterland: the Band performs its last concert after 16 years on the road. Some numbers they do alone, some songs include guest artists from Ronnie Hawkins (their first boss, when they were the Hawks) to Bob Dylan (their last, when as his backup and as a solo group, they came into their own). Scorsese's camera explores the interactions onstage in the making of music. Offstage, he interviews the Band's five members, focusing on the nature of life on the road. The friendships, the harmonies, the hijinks, and the wear and tear add up to a last waltz. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

It Started as a Concert. It Became a Celebration. Now it's a Legend. [theatrical re-release] See more »

Genres:

Documentary | Music

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

MGM

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Middle English

Release Date:

26 April 1978 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Super Jam See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$16,151, 7 April 2002, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$321,952, 27 May 2002
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Levon Helm was very upset that Neil Diamond got a song in the film while he was trying to get two songs on film of Muddy Waters. See more »

Goofs

During Garth Hudson's solo in the song "Stagefright", the entire song cuts forward approximately 25 seconds. See more »

Quotes

Bob Dylan: [singing] May God bless and keep you always, May your wishes all come true, May you always do for others, And let others do for you, May you build a ladder to the stars, And climb on every rung, May you stay - forever young, Forever young, Forever young, May you stay forever young...
See more »

Crazy Credits

At the beginning of the film it just says: "THIS FILM SHOULD BE PLAYED LOUD!" See more »

Alternate Versions

The DVD features an outtake of the jam session onstage towards the end of the concert. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Directors: The Films of Martin Scorsese (2000) See more »

Soundtracks

Mannish Boy
Written by Melvin London, Muddy Waters and Bo Diddley
Performed by Muddy Waters with The Band
See more »

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User Reviews

Glare of the Spotlight
11 January 2005 | by catchick37See all my reviews

This movie was only a name to me until I saw it last year. Immediately, I was riveted by everything about it. I've always been a casual fan of The Band, and of Levon Helm in particular. However, I'd never been bowled over by Bob Dylan, except as a songwriter, so much of The Band's work remained unknown to me as well. I wouldn't say I've become a rabid fan, but I am much more interested in their work, now.

It's a Scorsese film--how could it not be beautifully photographed, but Scorsese managed a difficult feat: he keeps himself out of the movie, except as interviewer during those sequences. This is not really Scorese's vision of a rock concert. It happened mostly organically, certainly with mistakes, gaffes and grit. This is part of its charm.

There are better singers than the guys in The Band, but few better musicians. This can be illustrated with Robbie Robertson in the Clapton song: Clapton's guitar strap comes off and Robertson, with one beat, picks right up on the solo. It looked planned, but wasn't. Joni Mitchell was notoriously hard to back up, due to her original guitar tuning, and ragged song phrasing, but bassist Rick Danko fills in every space with intricate bass figuring.

Perhaps we have become too accustomed to the overwrought, over-hyped, overproduced, overexposed, shiny gack that passes for popular music to appreciate the raw, the imperfect, the sheer humanness of this music. Scorsese shows it all. The guys in The Band were largely worn out and sometimes strung out in the interviews. They are tired, scrawny, empty-eyed from the excesses of the road. Rick Danko is hovering on the ragged edge, as his band is dissolved, and he says his goal is to "keep busy." Richard Manuel looks lost as he says "I just want to break even." These are two musicians who desperately needed the music, but who were murdered by the road. We see their bleak destinies in their eyes in this film.

It is bittersweet certainly, but also a moment in time, crystallized into something great by the music, the love of friends, the willingness of the director to simply stand back and allow the music to happen. It also reminds us what good music used to sound like and makes me wish could exist again.


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