Under African Skies (2012)
For the 25th anniversary of "Graceland," Paul Simon returns to South Africa for a historic reunion concert-and a look at his landmark album's turbulent birth. Interviewing anti-apartheid activists and music legends like Quincy Jones, Harry Belafonte, Paul McCartney and David Byrne, Berlinger's (Crude, Paradise Lost) new doc explores both the anatomy of a musical masterwork and the responsibilities of art. -- (C) IFC Center
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Critic Reviews for Under African Skies
UNDER AFRICAN SKIES is much smarter and more profound than most music documentaries. It's a powerful, beautifully executed film that entertains, informs and questions.
It's a blissful film, this work by Berlinger and co., a sheer privilege for the viewer to spend such quality time UNDER AFRICAN SKIES.
This absorbing documentary takes an up-close and intimate look at the musicians' creative process, then zooms out to recall the political turmoil that this landmark album left in its wake.
Under African Skies takes what could have been a puff piece glossing over the protestations related to Graceland and teaches the controversy.
The result is doubly satisfying: We get not only a trenchant political drama but a bang-up concert film as well.
The affection between the musicians and Simon is clear. The portrait that emerges time and again is personal and a reflection of the realities of apartheid.
[It] does an excellent job of recapitulating the controversies surrounding the album's creation without bearing down too heavily on old news, while subtly taking Mr. Simon's side against his critics.
It's a pleasant surprise that Under African Skies not only draws attention to the controversy surrounding its subject matter but digs into it a little.
A harmonious, fair-minded, energetic and enlightening portrait of one masterpiece's moment in time.
Powered by Paul Simon's brilliance, Under African Skies is a cultural lightning bolt that soars on its music and an unshakable belief in the transcendence of art.
Under African Skies is less interested in hagiography than in the moral ambiguities of making art.
It does lightly suggest scintillating questions about the responsibility artists have in reflecting current political moments in their music.
Berlinger's doc expertly captures the debate of the time and where it's at now, 25 years later.
Under African Skies is appreciably smarter than most celebrity musician docus.
What's most exciting about Under African Skies is how it engages with whether artists have social and political responsibilities, and if so, what those might entail.
A pure-bliss celebration of Paul Simon's landmark album Graceland coupled with an interesting if not unbiased look at the controversy surrounding its release...
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