This biographic documentary reflects on the life of legendary folk musician Woody Guthrie through a series of interviews with his friends, colleagues, children and biographers.
Highlights include wisdom and memories from the always-inspiring Pete Seeger and other Guthrie friends and colleagues. The film reveals Guthrie's history well, and paints a surprisingly detailed (occasionally contradictory in fact) portrait of Guthrie as a reactor to his times.
Unlike more effective commemorative pieces, This Machine relies very heavily on footage from the interviews that compose the subject, and is presented with chronological rigor. The film would have been more effective had the director used a thematic approach to organizing the film, and the cinematography would have been improved by more consistent use of the interview material as voice-overs for montages of historical films and photos.
My last criticism concerns Billy Bragg. Although I enjoy a lot of Mr. Bragg's music, and understand the reverence with which he approached this project, I have to say that Bragg is not an evocative narrator. His narrative segments are too easily ignored- stiff, monotone and predictable.
Worth seeing by fans of Guthrie and Seeger. However, Guthrie's best biography is his autobiography. This film is NOT an introduction to early/mid-twentieth century American folk music.
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