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The Last Waltz Reviews

Page 1 of 46
Bathsheba Monk
Bathsheba Monk

Super Reviewer

April 16, 2013
Just saw this on the big screen for the first time in 2013. What an amazing lot of talent on one stage at one time. I saw it as a series at a local art house and there was a film professor from Local U pontificating before the film about how this movie made him hate Martin Scorsese--said he was a big egomaniac--so I was interested to see what that was all about and all I can say is I'm glad I didn't become a film major if all film profs are such jackasses. Scorsese was basically invisible--he was just the guy the Band members were talking to, in fact he seemed a little nervous--the cinematography was beautiful and the music was out of this world. I had never heard Joni Mitchell sing Coyote. Wow. It was a real story, too, about why the band was breaking up after 16 years on the road. Probably the best documentary about a band I've seen.
cosmo313
cosmo313

Super Reviewer

November 29, 2011
Thursday November 25th, 1976: Thanksgiving Day. On that night, one of the most momentous events in music history took place. For on that night, The Band decided to call it a day as a group and have a farewell concert at the Winterland in San Francisco to mark the occasion. They brought along with them some of their friends, influences, and collaborators. Martin Scorsese was brought along to document the occasion. This film, released two years later is the result.

Well, not to diminish the impact, but it's only part of the result. All in all, the full uncut concert was five hours long. Man, I'd kill to see all of it. Too bad I'll probably never get the chance. Anyway, let's get on with it shall we. The guests musicians who all show up for varying lengths to jam include, among others: Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, Van Morrison, Dr. John, Neil Young, and Eric Clapton. Even poets like Michael McClure and Lawrence Ferlinghetti show up to perform. I think it's pretty fair and obvious to say that obviously Robbie and Co. were familiar with the phrase "if you're gonna go out, go out with a bang".

Not only is this an epic and brilliant concert, it's just a wonderful celebration of an interesting period of music during an even more interesting time for both music and society. The mid 70s were a curious time, and this film really helps capture the essence. All of these people onstage love msuic, but you can just tell they're all weary and burnt out, and in need of revitilization. If you only jsut listen to this great music, you can't tell it, but seeing it being performed, you can just tell that there's a lot of pain, frustration, and bitterness going on.Interspersed between the footage are typical interview/documentary type footage with help provide further insight into the msuic, the people, and the times, and it too, like the stage stuff, though great, is very bittersweet.

You'd think that because I am a huge fan of Scorsese, a fan of 60s and 70s rock music (thus a fan of most people that are featured here), and have both a scholarly and general interest in the 70s that I probably would have already seen this movie lke 100 times by now. Surprisingly no. For whatever reason, I didn't get around to this until now. Obviously I'm happy I finally did it, but still, I can't help but feel like I'm less complete for having waited so long.

Don't be like me and make that mistake. Go out and see this film as soon as you can. It's got great music, is fascinating to watch, and is shot and directed superbly. It easily earns all the acclaim it gets about being one of (if not the) finest concert film ever made.
Graham J

Super Reviewer

October 28, 2011
A great document of a great band.
Lady D

Super Reviewer

March 23, 2007
Martin Scorsese directs this part interview, part live show with members of ?The Band? on their last gig together after 18 years on the road.

An impressive musical line up offers performances from Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Neil Young, Van Morrison etc etc.

For those who enjoy this era of music and the atmosphere of live singers who are some of the best musicians of our time, this footage really is a treat to see. The quality of performances are exceptional and I?ve no doubt that this will be one to play over and over.
Stephen M

Super Reviewer

March 23, 2008
Even with their final concert recorded for posterity in Scorsese's seminal film, The Band have still somehow managed to fade into relative obscurity: adored by the music cognoscenti, but hardly a household name. In their day, however, they were hugely influential, championed by pop (George Harrison), blues (Eric Clapton) and folk musicians (Fairport Convention) alike for their rustic approach. The awesome line-up of "The Last Waltz" attests to their genre-straddling influence and the respect of their peers; I doubt whether The Beatles could have got the likes of Dylan, Neil Young, Muddy Waters, Joni Mitchell, Eric Clapton and Van Morrison together in the same place. Highlights are numerous, but my absolute favourite moment (look out for it) is when Clapton's guitar strap falls off at the end of his first solo, and a lightning quick Robbie Robertson takes the lead while he sorts himself out. I'd love to know whether Clapton's low-key contribution was an act of modest deference, because there is no doubt that Robertson blows him off the stage. I have two criticisms: 1) the wonderful Richard Manuel, The Band's most distinctive, most soulful vocalist, is shamefully underrepresented, and 2) there's an unmistakable whiff of pretension about the interview inserts, which Rob Reiner (Marty DiBergi) pricelessly spoofed in "This Is Spinal Tap". If you don't like the music, you won't get much out of this film; if you do, chances are you'll love it.
Michael G

Super Reviewer

November 10, 2006
The songs were 50/50 for me as I've heard maybe 5 Band songs before seeing this, so I didn't have too much in the expectations dept. Some I absolutely loved and others I absolutely hated. I love Bob Dylan, but I hated him here. There wasn't enough interview footage in between songs, but it's a tough call when you're filming one of the biggest nights in rock history. Not Scorsese's most defining work, but he wasn't exactly the star here...
Cindy I

Super Reviewer

May 23, 2007
Pretty decent, but I'm not a really a fan of The Band.
Cameron W. Johnson
Cameron W. Johnson

Super Reviewer

June 23, 2013
"This is our last waltz, this is our last waltz, this is ourselves... under pressure!" I suppose I could have quoted the Engelbert Humperdinck song, but I feel that that 1980s Queen/David Bowie pop-rock collaboration was more fitting for this discussion about The Band, because this film was the last chance to take the load, or rather, pressure off of Annie, like The Band had been asking for, like, a billion times, or for however many choruses there are to "The Weight". No, "The Weight" is a good song, and it's not the only good song by The Band, as this film will definitely tell you with one heck of a concert that I'd imagine was even better for many of those involved in this concert and film, due to this event's great importance... and all of the cocaine. Yeah, I know a concert in the mid-'70s without any drugs is no real concert at all, but come on Martin Scorsese and Neil Young, this isn't Woodstock '99, even though I do like the idea of seeing Scorsese tweaking out with his eyebrows frizzed up. Maybe Bob Dylan didn't want to be filmed because he was worried about people making cocaine-related jokes about his nose, seeing as how he couldn't have honestly been worried about this film driving attention away from "Renaldo and Clara", even though it was bound to be a huge success, what with its experimental structure, low-profile limited release, weak critical reception and four-hour runtime. They say that Dylan was finally convinced to give the okay for his being filmed because he was informed that this film would be released months after "Renaldo and Clara", but by the time January 1978's "Renaldo and Clara" was finished, this film would have been a week into its April release, so that white hat and possible fear of jokes involving white powder had to have been the only things on his mind at this time. I mean, he had to have known that this film was going to be the success that it ended up being, and justly so, because, again, this is a heck of a show, and it makes for a heck of a film, which isn't to say that "Renaldo and Clara" is the '78 film featuring Bob Dylan that has problems.

The film tacks on some interview material, which certainly adds to the entertainment value with some interesting information, but if Martin Scorsese is going to go as far as to incorporate more depth to this documentary, then he may as well go further, yet ultimately doesn't, or at least not as much as he probably should, putting no real structure to the interviews that ultimately give you only so much information to digest. The problems within the usage of the interviews are very light, yet they do dilute momentum a smidge by thinning out certain areas in depth that probably shouldn't have been present to begin with, even if their purpose is kind of noble. Scorsese attempts to break up the repetition of straightforward concert footage with the backstage material, yet ends up making that structural concept formulaic, to where, after a while, the documentary ends up feeling more repetitious than it probably would have been if it had just stuck with the aimless concert material, which does indeed still taint the focal structure of this film as a documentary. Jeez, speaking of monotony, I'm really trying to crowbar in discussions of flaws, but either way, the fact of the matter is that this ambitious project incorporates somewhat unnecessary aspects that end up being flawed by their own right, to the detriment of the final product that it was trying to ameliorate with the flawed questionable touch-ups. In all fairness, in a lot of ways, the additional touches to this documentary do, in fact, color things up, but they add a few light blemishes that don't really belong, and that actually leaves you to focus upon the final product's natural shortcomings, because at the end of the day, it's all about the concert, which is, of course, a strong show, but not quite strong enough to make a feature film all that terribly upstanding. There's not a whole lot that's wrong with this film, but that's partially because there's simply not much at all to the film, which is rewarding, - partially because of the theatrical touches that work, and largely because it simply revolves around a good show - but not quite with enough kick to be all that strong of a film. With that said, while the lack of meat emphasizes what shortcomings there are, it all emphasizes what strengths there, and let me tell you, there are plenty of strengths to this documentary, not just as a showcase of fine musicianship, but as a well-polished cinematic effort.

The first of several post-"Taxi Driver" Michael Chapman/Martin Scorsese collaborations, this film, at the very least, looks really good, for although the feature production-grade quality of Chapman's cinematography dilutes some of the realist documentary immersion value, but still catches your eyes with rugged coloring and lovely sparse plays with the stage lighting that give the film a distinguished look that makes it, not just a concert flick, but a visual treat. The film isn't exactly stunning, but its handsome photographic value reflects the theatrical value of this distinctive rockumentary/concert film, thus livening up the entertainment value that, of course, mostly rests on the shoulders of the center focus of this film: the concert that marked a grand finale for The Band. Like I said, The Band's Thanksgiving farewell concert of 1976, which drives this film, isn't quite strong enough to make the final product truly upstanding, and it doesn't help that some of the performances kind of run together, if not feature the occasional monotonous spell within themselves, but on the whole, it's hard to deny that this is a heck of a show, featuring a generally dynamic and plentiful set of classic and thoroughly entertaining songs that go brought to life by the charismatic presence and sharp musicianship of The Band and its guest collaborators. Not every song is strong, but most every piece of this concert presented in this documentary proves to a thoroughly entertaining display of what people would be missing once The Band broke up, so as a showcase of inspired, well-done and all around fine live performances, this film excels. Of course, there is a bit more to this film than just good songs, and as I said earlier, that's not always a good thing, as the non-musical theatrical supplements to the range of this documentary often get to be a bit too undercooked for their own good, but just as much as, if not more than they are problematic, such touches as backstage material breathe some life into this film, whether when it's charmingly displaying The Band merely hanging out, or presenting interviews that, while superficial in their depth, give you some degree of insight into the history of The Band through plenty of interesting, maybe even humbling stories. There's a certain heart to the musicians as they tell their tale, and such a heart goes matched only by the heart within Martin Scorsese's direction, which structures scenes in a way that keeps the liveliness of the music pumping the film with consistent entertainment value, broken up by a degree of resonance, summoned from the warmly well-presented more soulful numbers. Not all of Scorsese's touches work, but the ambition within his direction backs genuine inspiration that brings enough of the entertainment value to life for the shortcomings to go overcome, maybe not to where you end up with an excellent film, but certainly to where you end up with quite the thoroughly enjoyable rock film.

When the waltz is done, somewhat superficial interviews and a repetitious structure prove to be light issues that go a long way in emphasizing the natural shortcomings that secure the final product as far from excellent, but not so far from enjoyment that lovely cinematography, generally interesting backstage filler, heartfelt direction and a strong concert that stands at the end of it all aren't able to make Martin Scorsese's "The Last Waltz" a rewarding and thoroughly entertaining tribute to and showcase of the talent of a group as legendary as The Band.

3/5 - Good
John B

Super Reviewer

May 30, 2010
A Toronto area theatre has made the wise decision to show th is film so that everyone can see it on the big screen. This is Scorsese doing the concert film correctly (unlike the disappointing Shine A Light). If you see the unremastered version, you can see the little residue of something in Neil Young's nose. Somehow it vanishes in newer versions.
Wu C

Super Reviewer

September 9, 2007
Great concert doc. Scorsese does it right and scores some great footage.
November 16, 2013
The Last Waltz is a beautiful view into the world of Rock and roll and The Band. Scorsese proves to be one of the greatest film makers yet again with his sense of direction and pizzazz.
September 4, 2010
Beautiful. It captured the feeling of that classic rock that touches the heart and soul of America. I was exposed to some music I did not know, and now want to add it to my library. It was unlike any other movie I have seen and was educational as well as inspiring. I loved that it showed the passion of music, and why musicians are who they are as artists.
April 19, 2012
I can't speak much to the documentary bits....Scorsese isn't asking very interesting questions and the guys don't have much interesting to say. as a concert film, though, this is simply outstanding. fantastic music from The Band and an awe-inspiring cast of guest stars. seeing Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, and Robbie Robertson singing into one microphone was really a beautiful thing. overall a film that's musically outstanding and cinematically pretty blah.
jhmrbones67
April 11, 2011
Classic band concert movies with great interviews but only slight thing wrong is one song puts me to sleep which i do not like.
shawnmiller2
November 14, 2010
Amazing...they just don't make bands like this anymore...

What a collection of talent on stage during the course of this concert...

Liked how Scorcese interspersed the concert footage with the interview and set pieces...well done...
April 14, 2010
This is hailed as one of the best concert films ever made. It is kinda like a concert film mixed in with a documentary. The movie centers around The Band's last performance. The Band was always very well receipted by the music industry, however mainstream recognition failed them, at least on a major scale. But the film is enjoyable, the mix of guest stars is really fun to see.
brickred1
April 12, 2009
The thing I love best about this movie is you can sit through and watch it, and it's a very enjoyable experience, and you can also leave it play and clean your house. The music is lovely.......except for Neil Young...he can fuck right off.
kaldiboo
September 20, 2008
pure joy from The Band's last concert. Scorsese intertwines some of the best concert footage with amusing anecdotes of the boys just being themselves. if Neil Young's "helpless" and the Band's "the night they drove old dixie down" don't give you the chills, see a doctor.
Huxley11
August 16, 2008
This was completely fucking awesome! There was so much damn talent all over the place! The Band themselves of course, with Ronnie, Manuel, Garth, Danko, Levon, then you bring people like Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, Dr. John, Muddy Waters, Bob Dylan, and so many great others and you got yourself a completely fucking awesome concert! The backstage moments were flat out awesome too. This is outstanding music, purely outstanding music! R.I.P. Rick Danko and Richard Manuel.
July 10, 2008
really great! beautiful clarity, gorgeous songs. that's about it. feels like you're there on stage with'em and then some.
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