Neil Young: Heart of Gold (2006)


Critic Consensus: Proving that it's neither better to burn out nor fade away, Neil Young: Heart of Gold works both as a concert film and a meditation on mortality.


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Movie Info

"Neil Young : Heart of Gold" is filmmaker Jonathan Demme's intimate musical portrait of legendary singer/songwriter Neil Young, filmed on the occasion of the world premiere of Young's 'Prairie Wind' concert at Nashville's hallowed Ryman auditorium last summer. Young's music provides an emotionally rich view into this unique artist's relationship to family, friends, mortality and the passage of time. Young is accompanied on stage by many long time musical companions, including country star Emmylou Harris, Neil's wife Pegi Young, and band leader/ steel guitarist Ben Keith.

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Critic Reviews for Neil Young: Heart of Gold

All Critics (98) | Top Critics (39)

Pleasant, but hardly pulse-quickening stuff.

Oct 7, 2006 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
Top Critic

...Even those who haven't followed Young's every recent move could well find his performance here surprisingly captivating.

Oct 5, 2006 | Full Review…

The best moments in the film are when Ellen Kuras's camera just sits there taking in the whole stage, the whole gorgeous ecosystem.

May 12, 2006

It doesn't penetrate his craggy mystique, or make us hear his music in a new way. Instead, it's the same old choir song.

Apr 7, 2006 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

This Prairie Wind concert is one long sweet twang of wistful not-quite-regret.

Mar 17, 2006 | Rating: 3/5

When it comes to pop-music icons, Neil Young is the full package.

Mar 10, 2006 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Neil Young: Heart of Gold

In 2005, lauded musician Neil Young was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm. After getting this news, he wrote and recorded Prairie Wind- an album of ten sweet and folksy, but rough-hewn country rock songs that are both reflective on the past, but also look into the future. Shortly before he went in for surgery to correct the brain aneurysm, Young and his band, along with special guest Emmylou Harris, played a pair of concerts at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee- the original home of the Grand Ole Opery. The concerts featured the Praire Wind album in its entirety, along with an encore set of older songs that had been previously recorded in Nashville. Filmmaker Jonathan Demme was there to document this event on camera, and this film, is the resulting compilation of the major highlights. It's very folksy, reflective, and full of sentimentality. Only one song features an electric guitar, but there's still a great deal of heart, soul, and hope to be found here. Peppered with some of Neil's dry humor and a few interviews at the beginning, this is an elegantly simple concert film that is quite enjoyable and really comforting. The great thing about Neil is that he's always been great at performing both folksy acoustic music and raw electric jams with great skill. All of what's featured here is the former, but, even though I tend to prefer his more 'grungy' electric stuff, sometimes nothing beats the lighter stuff. All of the musicians are at the top of their game, the Prairie Wind album is pretty decent, and the songs for the 'classics' set are well chosen, and have a few of my favorites like "Heart of Gold", "Harvest Moon", and "The Needle and the Damage Done", so that makes me happy. If you're a fan, you definitely dig it. If you're not a die hard, you might find it to be decent, and if you're a newcomer, this might not be the best place to start, but it probably couldn't hurt, either.

Chris Weber
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

A fitting tribute to a great and still underappreciated artist. Demme succeeds where Young fails in his later Trunk Show film. Well rounded film that lets the music do the talking and what a story it tells.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer


Well shot and interesting, but the featured album (Prairie Wind) is kind of "same old Neil," and though listenable, the lyrics are kind of schlocky. As far as concert films go, though, this is something worth seeing - the Ryman auditorium is such an amazing venue.

Daniel Perry
Daniel Perry

Super Reviewer

[font=Century Gothic]"Neil Young: Heart of Gold" is a concert film capturing Neil Young and friends performing songs from his album "Prairie Wind", along with some of his older songs, at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville in 2005. The movie as directed by Jonathan Demme places the emphasis where it belongs - squarely on the musicians, the audience never being shown.(I recall a critic praising Demme for using a similar technique in "Stop Making Sense." Now, there is a movie I have to see one of these days...) The empty auditorium is shown at the start and end of the film. There are perfunctory interviews in the beginning which set the scene(the new album, Neil Young's recovery from a brain aneurysm, etc.), mostly filmed in the back seat of cars which give the impression of there being little time to spare. The concert itself is wistful and contemplative, with Neil Young paying homage to times gone by, and people no longer alive, especially his father who had just died. Overall, he gives the impression of somebody at peace with himself.[/font]

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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