The Last Waltz
Martin Scorsese’s third documentary, The Last Waltz, is one of the greatest concert films ever made. It documents The Band’s last concert on the road. Well, they would reunite every now and again, but let’s forget about that in order for the movie to work effectively. The Band play on stage with a plethora of stars; Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Muddy Waters, Joni Mitchell, Ringo Star, Ronnie Wood, Neil Young, Neil Diamond, Dr John. If this list does not get you excited then you have little taste or knowledge about music. The film has its faults; it is a little too long and the balance of interviews against music is off, but it is an absolute joy to watch.
It does what only a great concert can do. You marvel at their music abilities and become a part of a bigger thing. Watching The Last Waltz at the end of a great day is a truly magnificent experience. It was a bizarrely beautiful Summer’s day in late September. I was in the city that I love. I had bought the new issue of Criminal by Ed Brubaker (a fantastic comic book writer, pick up everything he has ever done). I had had a few pints of bitter in my favourite pub and now I was sitting down with a girl I adore to watch an exciting concert masterfully directed by one of the greatest directors of all time. The Last Waltz can only make a good day better.
Compare that to the day before. My lady friend and I (the one mentioned before; I am not a “player” as they are known), got stuck in Kingston and had to walk to Richmond. All of a sudden the late Autumn sun was no longer a pleasant surprise. Barely able to see through the sweat, I used my Orange Wednesday code to get two for one meals at Pizza Express. This was an awful experience for they decided to play music straight from Radio 1, it seemed. Club hits and R&B blasted through the speaker directly over our heads. Lady Gaga, Nicole Scherzinger’s disgusting song Right There, and strangely enough Evanescence. As a thumping club song played, I half considered throwing shapes, as I asked for my dough balls with garlic butter. Following this tiresome meal after an exhausting walk I yet again used my Orange Wednesday code, to get two tickets to see Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. This very slow film with its muted colours only added to my exhaustion. It is set in the 70s but I have never seen such a grey film with such little colour. The Last Waltz is a perfect example of how it was in the 70s; grey buildings, sure, but the suits couldn’t be more colourful. The point I am making is that The Last Waltz wakes you up, keeps you awake and makes you feel alive. If that disastrous day had ended with The Last Waltz then I know it would no longer have been disastrous (the fact that a walk, a pizza meal and a film counts as a disastrous day shows I live a quite comfortable life).
If you wanted someone to film your last concert you would want it to be Scorsese. Frankly you would want him to direct your last anything; breath, meal, words, shit, for he would make it look wonderful. The interviews are funny, the music is great, the editing is fabulous and the experience exhilarating. Top entertainment.
MOVIE RATING: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Harry Davenport
(Re-)Release Date: 2nd December, 2011
Cast: The Band, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters,Van Morrison, Ringo Starr