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Pete Lawrence - 15 Oct 2016


I would class The Last Waltz as my favourite every documentary film, focusing on The Band’s 1976 Thanksgiving Day farewell gig with a host of illustrious guests (Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters,Van Morrison, Dr John, Ronnie Hawkins, Ron Wood, Ringo Starr, Neil Diamond, Joni Mitchell, The Staples, Emmylou Harris, Paul Butterfield), interspersed with interview footage of the members talking about their memories and experiences on the road. Given that the youngest members were till only 33 when they broke up, they give the air of seasoned campaigners (early photos always made them look as if they were going on 60+) and what really impresses, alongside Scorsese’s editing flair as that they work so well together as a unit, largely ego-free and each member contributing to the sum of the parts, the whole which forms The Band.

Top Documentary Films site rates the film as follows :

Martin Scorsese's 1978 capsule history of the Band is mixed with footage of the group's allegedly last performance (certainly their last performance as a quintet) in this particularly stylish concert film. Scorsese shoots the players and their sundry guests with the same flair and enthusiasm one can see in the later The Color of Money or Goodfellas. He also proves a good interviewer with Band members, particularly Robbie Robertson, whose sleepy-sexy good looks make a star-caliber impression in close-up.

But the film's real hook is the stage show, which features a rotation of rock legends (Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Paul Butterfield, Bob Dylan, and so on) playing with the Band before a wildly appreciative audience.

It started as a concert. It became a celebration. Join an unparalleled lineup of rock superstars as they celebrate The Band's historic 1976 farewell performance. Directed by Martin Scorsese (Raging Bull, Goodfellas), The Last Waltz is not only "the most beautiful rock film ever made" (New York Times) it's "one of the most important cultural events of the last two decades" (Rolling Stone).


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