A history of The Band, as well as stage appearances by Muddy Waters, Staple Singers, Dr. John, Paul Butterfield, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, Neil Diamond, Ron Wood, Ringo Starr and others.
4k movies reviews
November 26, 1976, Thanksgiving Day, Winterland Concert Hall, San Francisco. On that night, the then-young director Martin Scorsese captured on film the final concert of the farewell tour of the legendary Canadian-American band The Band.
Formerly the accompaniment band of Ronnie Hawkins and Bob Dylan, members of the famous Woodstock, whose first albums became the ‘platinum fund’ of rock music in the late ’60s, were and still are arguably the most rootsy ensemble of North American popular music. The multi-instrumentalists who easily fused folk, blues, country, rock, ragtime and soul in their music, they always remained themselves, not chasing the fashionable musical trends of their contemporaries, like psychedelic rock, and managing to win the respect of both the hippie audience of those times and the critics who were always ‘sharp on the pen’.
For Scorsese this film was far from his first experience of work in the musical cinema, once, with his constant companion Thelma Schoonmaker, he worked on editing a documentary about the Woodstock festival.
The Last Waltz is structured according to the classic scheme of concert documentaries: a musical number – a blitz-interview with a band member. In this way the viewer is presented not just as a talented performer, but as a lively man with an individual organism. The director himself also appears in the frame, asking questions to his involuntary ‘actors’.
In addition to performing their own ‘netlenoks’, The Band interpret the songs of their ‘brothers on the guitar fingerboard’, and the authors themselves help them in this, taking to the stage one after another. And among them, we must say, genius upon geniuses, legend upon legend: Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Neil Diamond, Van Morrison, Eric Clapton (who once, after hearing the debut album of The Band, decided by all means to become a member of the band), the great Muddy Waters and even Bob Dylan himself! That’s not counting many others, like Ringo Starr or the beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
The camera captures exclusively the musicians on stage, glancing carelessly through the crowd in the auditorium only once or twice during the two hours of screen time. Scorsese also dilutes the concert with stand-up numbers performed in the pavilion, among which turns out to be the band’s biggest hit, the ‘biblical’ ballad ‘The Weight’. With these proto-clip inserts, the director absolutely emphasized a certain acoustic chamberness peculiar to all of The Band’s work.
For perspective, as it turns out, this film was not only the last major documentary of the ‘golden era of rock,’ but also a ‘swan denunciation’ of the entire ‘flower power’ era. ‘The melodies of the American South met the crystal air of Canadian lakes, the mandolin, fiddle, accordion and double bass became rock instruments, and backstage Mark Twain looms with a harmonica.
Codec: HEVC / H.265 (82.1 Mb/s)
Resolution: Native 4K (2160p)
HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10
Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (48kHz, 24-bit)
English: LPCM 2.0 (48kHz, 24-bit)
English: Dolby Digital 5.1
English: Dolby Digital 2.0