Last Waltz

Last Waltz

4.6 19
Director: Martin Scorsese

Cast: Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Neil Diamond

     
 

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Martin Scorsese's documentary of the 1976 final performance of the legendary Sixties rock group The Band is at once a show featuring some of the greatest rock performers of their generation and a bittersweet look back at an era that was just beginning to fade. As Scorsese guides the group through interview segments discussing their 15 years together, these relatively… See more details below

Overview

Martin Scorsese's documentary of the 1976 final performance of the legendary Sixties rock group The Band is at once a show featuring some of the greatest rock performers of their generation and a bittersweet look back at an era that was just beginning to fade. As Scorsese guides the group through interview segments discussing their 15 years together, these relatively young men sound like battle-weary survivors. But The Band were in splendid form for this show, and their multiple guest stars pulled out all the stops, especially Muddy Waters, whose "Mannish Boy" is so powerful it nearly burns a hole in the screen; Van Morrison, with a rousing performance of "Caravan;" and Bob Dylan, whose "Baby Let Me Follow You Down" displays the brilliant cockiness of his barnstorming days with this band. The all-star camera crew and superb stereo sound mix create what is considered to be of the best-looking and sounding rock films ever (as the opening credit says, play this movie loud!), and two studio-shot sequences with Emmylou Harris and The Staple Singers stand on their own.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Greg Fagan
Whether you subscribe to notion that The Last Waltz really was the last waltz -- a matches-flaming final encore for the American rock of the ‘60s -- or a farewell concert overfreighted by some fans with cultural import, there's no escaping its sheer brilliance as a film. Restored and sonically enhanced for its 25th anniversary and DVD debut, The Last Waltz is a searing musical party with soaring ambitions that rarely disappoints. At the time, director Martin Scorsese was in the middle of filming New York, New York, the much-anticipated follow-up to his one-two punch of Taxi Driver and Mean Streets. This groundbreaking concert film-cum-documentary afforded Scorsese -- who had served as an editor on Michael Wadleigh’s Woodstock -- another chance to apply his craft to nonfiction; and together with Band frontman Robbie Robertson he crafted a film of mythic proportions. The premise was simple: The Band -- roots rockers long before roots rock became a Grammy-graced movement (see Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? and its concert spinoff, Down from the Mountain) -- paid homage to significant influences and invited like-minded friends to join in. One by one, the group is joined by Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Joni Mitchell, Muddy Waters, Dr. John, Van Morrison, Neil Diamond, and Neil Young. A satisfying, earthy vibe simmers throughout the evening, and the re-recorded sound makes everything percolate -- it's like comparing Mr. Coffee to Starbucks. The Last Waltz Special Edition is a wonderland of special features, including previously unseen jam footage, audio commentary with Scorsese and Robertson, and a new featurette, "Revisiting The Last Waltz." It’s one of the year's best DVDs, and we're especially glad MGM pulled this one out of the time capsule and dusted it off.
All Movie Guide - Perry Seibert
Scorsese begins his movie with the last song the Band performed that day because he is establishing that the subject of The Last Waltz is not primarily the Band or its members, but the songs themselves. By giving the emotional payoff for the players right at the top of the film, Scorsese allows the audience to concentrate on the music that fills the rest of the film. Robbie Robertson, Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel, and Garth Hudson each have memorable moments in front of the camera during Scorsese's informal interviews, but what emerges is less a document of a band breaking up than a tribute to the glorious music these men are capable of playing. The key to the film can be found in a short moment about 45 minutes into the film -- a backstage performance by Manuel (harmonica), Danko (fiddle and vocal), and Robertson (guitar and vocal) of the standard "Old Time Religion." As Danko and Robertson's voices intertwine, the guitar keeps the rhythm, and the fiddle makes a glorious sound. Yes, the Band certainly investigated American roots music like "Old Time Religion," but in this context the song takes on a broader meaning -- the religion is music. In this intimate performance Scorsese's camera illustrates both the passion the performers have for their religion, as well as the emotion the director himself has for it. The rest of the film's performances are dedicated to the Band performing for others, but this moment gives the audience a glimpse of these talented men in the equivalent of prayer. Scorsese's restless camera is a good match for the music. The Band often traded lead vocal duties within songs. Note how the camera movement during "The Weight" is both kinetic and precise, finding Mavis Staples, Rick Danko, and Pops Staples just as they begin their respective verses. An impressive marriage of visuals and sound, The Last Waltz is a glorious document of our recent musical past.
Village Voice
[Gathers] so much talent into one theater that the stage buckles and the subject drops out of sight.
Washington Post - Richard Harrington
Still sounds powerful, vibrant, imaginative and adventurous.
Chicago Sun-Times - Roger Ebert
A revealing document of a time.

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Product Details

Release Date:
07/25/2006
UPC:
0027616150240
Original Release:
1978
Rating:
PG
Source:
20Th Century Fox
Region Code:
A
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Sound:
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Time:
1:57:00
Sales rank:
2,642

Special Features

Closed Caption; Seamless menu navigation; Director's commentary with Martin Scorsese; Revisiting The Last Waltz

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Bob Dylan Himself
Joni Mitchell Herself
Neil Diamond Himself
Emmylou Harris Herself
Van Morrison Himself
Eric Clapton Himself
Ringo Starr Himself
Neil Young Himself
Ronnie Wood Himself
Muddy Waters Himself
Staple Singers Themselves
Dr. John Himself
Ronnie Hawkins Himself
Paul Butterfield Himself
Band Themselves
Robbie Robertson Actor
Rick Danko Actor
Levon Helm Actor
Garth Hudson Actor
Richard Manuel Actor
Roebuck "Pops" Staples Himself

Technical Credits
Martin Scorsese Director
Bobby Byrne Cinematographer
Michael Chapman Cinematographer
Jerry Grandey Asst. Director
Laszlo Kovacs Cinematographer
Boris Leven Production Designer
Frank Marshall Producer
Steve Maslow Sound/Sound Designer
Anthony Mondello Set Decoration/Design
David Myers Cinematographer
Hiro Narita Cinematographer
Steven Prince Associate Producer
James Quinn Asst. Director
Robbie Robertson Producer
Jonathan Taplin Executive Producer
John Toll Camera Operator
Michael W. Watkins Cinematographer
Vilmos Zsigmond Cinematographer

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