American Masters (1985– )
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Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool 

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2:24 | Trailer
Musicians, scholars, family and friends reflect on the life of jazzer Miles Davis to reveal the man behind the legend. Full access to Davis' estate provides rare footage and photos, outtakes from recording sessions and new interviews.

Director:

Stanley Nelson
1 win & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Carl Lumbly ... Miles Davis (voice)
Miles Davis ... Self (archive footage)
Reginald Petty Reginald Petty ... Self
Quincy Troupe Quincy Troupe ... Self
Farah Griffin Farah Griffin ... Self - co-author of 'Clawing at the Limits of Cool: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and the Greatest Jazz Collaboration Ever'
Lee Annie Bonner Lee Annie Bonner ... Self - Miles Davis' childhood friend
Ashley Kahn Ashley Kahn ... Self
Benjamin Cawthra Benjamin Cawthra ... Self
Billy Eckstine Billy Eckstine ... Self (archive footage)
Walter Cronkite ... Self (archive footage)
Jimmy Heath Jimmy Heath ... Self
Jimmy Cobb ... Self
Dan Morgenstern Dan Morgenstern ... Self
Charlie Parker ... Self (archive footage)
Greg Tate Greg Tate ... Self
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Storyline

Musicians, scholars, family and friends reflect on the life of jazzer Miles Davis to reveal the man behind the legend. Full access to Davis' estate provides rare footage and photos, outtakes from recording sessions and new interviews.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Crazy Credits

All music, unless otherwise noted, performed by Miles Davis. See more »

Connections

References Elevator to the Gallows (1958) See more »

User Reviews

 
Using the talking heads option is so out of date
1 November 2019 | by reginadonkSee all my reviews

Without doubt Miles Davis was one of THE premier creative artists of the 20th Century. Beyond that he has also come to symbolise cool in so many ways. However, the realities of his character; his cruelness, tendency to violence, (often perpetrated against women) his serious addictions, disputes and asocial nature are well documented. Do we want to know those details, though, or do we prefer to focus on the genius, the sophisticated aura that he engendered, and forgive the artist his human failings? Well, this documentary certainly chooses to avoid delving too deep into the darker heart of the man. It purports to be revealing and exposing but it isn't. Yes, it acknowledges the wife-beating and the substance abuse but it manages to play down these as either a very small side of his complex nature, or, in the case of the drug use, blame it on external forces. (such as his joyous sojourn in Paris where he was lauded, followed on then by his return to a racist America that treats him like a dog - The film views his subsequent descent into heroin addiction as completely understandable in the face of this experience) This is how one goes about re-writing history, forgiving the often unacceptable, and creating a myth. Meanwhile, if we concentrate on the music then there is no question of his utter integrity, his dedication to the craft and his pioneering spirit. That is fine, although we never get enough lengthy excerpts here to sit back and wallow in. Instead we see and hear endless talking heads giving us their take on the man or how significant they (or they like to think they) were to him during his life. Using the talking heads option is so out of date in the wake of the new wave of celebrity docu-films. It smacks of cheap obvious TV style profiles and is simply artless and lazy. Having said that, there was so little older footage and interviews that I suspected that the makers were either denied rights to much film, of would have had to pay top dollar to use it. So, we end up with a cheap, airbrushed and empty story. Saying all that, the film has one moment of clarity: Someone comments that the cool, the aloofness, and the asocial behaviour of Miles Davis is potentially forever forgiven when we hear the emotion, the humanity and the vulnerability in his playing. If we focus on his message through his music and not his struggle with being a human being we feel the art and that dwarfs the trivia. The speaker assumes that it is this that made women fall at his feet and every guy to want to be him. This film should have been so much better.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 February 2020 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$18,258, 25 August 2019

Gross USA:

$614,201

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$984,499
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Aspect Ratio:

16:9 HD
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