The Film: The Last Waltz, 1978
Martin Scorsese. The Band is: Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Levon Helm,
Richard Manuel, Garth Hudson. Guest starring: Eric Clapton, Neil
Diamond, Bob Dylan, Dr. John, Joni Mitchell, Ringo Starr, Van Morrison,
Neil Young, Emmylou Harris, Paul Butterfield, Muddy Waters.
In 1976 The Band, arguably one of the least-known yet most influential bands of all time, knew their touring career was coming to an end. To celebrate their very last show they hired a director named Martin Scorsese to shoot it, impressed by his work on films like Taxi Driver and New York, New York. Blocking every song almost note for note, Scorsese added in interviews and anecdotes with The Band, shot additional performances of iconic songs, and started the film with the very last song they played, managing to turn this incredible concert into an incredible piece of cinema.
Good: It’s one of the first and best concert documentaries ever. Yes, it’s good. Did you see that list of performers up there? They had everyone on this thing, and Scorsese’s tight editing and multiple cameras makes it feel like you’re watching a private performance.
Look:It’s worth a look, and then about a billion listens. There’s a reason the title card says “This film should be played loud!” It’s actually illegal to play this one quietly.
My dad used to listen to The Band and all sorts of classic rock and folk bands from the era, so I grew up on these songs. But it’s only till recently that I’ve owned the film, picking up the excellent blu-ray when I realized how replayable it is. I really can’t stop
it- with the great picture and lossless audio it’s never looked
sounded better, much to my neighbors’ chagrin. This is the disc to test your surround sound with- trust me.