The Winding Stream is a 90-minute High Definition music history documentary-in-progress that tells the story of the American roots music dynasty, the Carters and the Cashes. Starting with ...
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The Winding Stream is a 90-minute High Definition music history documentary-in-progress that tells the story of the American roots music dynasty, the Carters and the Cashes. Starting with the Original Carter Family (A.P., Sara, Maybelle), the film traces the ebb and flow of their influence, the transformation of that act into the Carter Sisters, the marital alliance with legend Johnny Cash and the efforts of present-day family to keep this legacy alive. No one has yet pulled together all the elements of this family saga in one documentary. The goal of The Winding Stream is to honor this multi-generational family where it stands -- at the headwaters of American roots music.Written by
This documentary on the seminal country music act The Carter Family has it's work cut out for it. It was made some 80 years after the beginning of their career, there is no known motion picture film of A. P. Carter (who was still alive as late as 1960!!!), not all that much on Sara Carter either, and all three had been gone at the time for at least thirty years. Heck, all three of Maybelle Carter's daughters were also deceased by the time filmmaking commenced and her famous son-in-law Johnny Cash wasn't long for this world himself. And yet the film succeeds beautifully thanks to the very rare still photography, interviews with A.P. and Sara's children and grandchildren as well as Maybelle's grandkids and Cash in one of his very last interviews, the stunningly beautiful cinematography of the Carter's native rural Virginia (some areas remarkably unchanged after almost a century), and above all the excerpts of their still powerful music lead by Sara's haunting vocals and A. P.'s superb songwriting,or at least extraordinary taste in "songcatching" (much of his work was originally penned by rural southerners and given to him).
The Carter Family of course are most famous in recent decades thanks to their family ties to music icon Johnny Cash. Poor A. P. and Sara often get the short shrift in the Carter Family retelling, quite unjustly, and it's worth noting of the two reviews here one centers on Cash and Maybelle and doesn't even mention them, the other repeatedly refers to "A. C. Carter" (sic). Pro reviewers weren't much better as the Variety review is also Cash and Maybelle oriented. I feel the filmmakers gave us the right balance in presenting Cash but not really making this his story despite the Cash name being mentioned in the subtitle. I also like the fact that the contemporary musicians in the film were truly influenced by the Carter Family and not just a bunch of current big names parroting hackneyed comments to widen the film's audience or the suggest that their work is on the level with that of the legends profiled as is often the case with these type of music documentaries.
The film is a lovely piece of work and I'm certainly going to buy the DVD release for my personal collection.
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