The Agony and the Ecstasy of Phil Spector


The Agony and the Ecstasy of Phil Spector

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Average Rating: 3.2/5

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Movie Info

Love him or hate him, Phil Spector owned a legacy claimed by few if any rock music producers, and directly influenced the course of rock orchestrations and arrangements to a considerable degree. Spector's trademark "wall of sound" -- a technique developed with audio engineers including Larry Levine and others -- emerged in the early '60s; it involved layering various sounds in the recording studio (and doing the actual recording in an echo chamber) to heighten the density and reverberation of the resultant tracks. The effect not only shaped the sound of major acts including the Beatles, the Supremes, the Beach Boys and the Righteous Brothers, but set a unique precedent for many successive performers who later sought to create works of art within a studio setting. In the process, Spector grew incredibly wealthy and well-connected, but also remained notoriously reclusive and eccentric, engendering a tremendous amount of media speculation about his private life. In 2003, a scandal emerged when Lana Clarkson, a 41-year-old character actress-cum-fashion model, turned up dead at Spector's home -- resulting in one of the most publicized criminal cases of the early 21st century. As directed for the BBC by Vikram Jayanti, the unique biographical documentary The Agony and the Ecstasy of Phil Spector probes both the professional triumphs and the criminal fallout of Spector's life. Jayanti uses as the body of the film a number of candid interviews with Spector, shot between his first and second murder trials, wherein he reflects on his collaborations with giants including Brian Wilson and John Lennon; later in the film, the director layers Spector tunes over silent footage of the trial (including grisly crime-scene images) to deliberately jarring effect. This film was originally produced for the BBC and aired in 2008, but updated with additional material in 2009 after the California court system handed out Spector's prison sentence. He received a guilty verdict and got 19 years to life behind bars.


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Critic Reviews for The Agony and the Ecstasy of Phil Spector

All Critics (33) | Top Critics (12)

  • Fascinating because its subject is so influential and so deranged, a shambles because its filmmaker can't decide which approach to take and so takes all of them.

    Jan 27, 2011 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

    Ty Burr

    Boston Globe
    Top Critic
  • Murderer or not, the man is a musical genius, and Jayanti's film makes that abundantly, even tragically clear...

    Dec 17, 2010 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • It's disconcerting but strangely effective -- you get a sense of different aspects of the man, coexisting as one.

    Dec 2, 2010 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • A documentary examination of the genius, madness, arrogance and abject insecurity of rock music's most famous record producer.

    Sep 10, 2010 | Rating: A | Full Review…

    Tom Long

    Detroit News
    Top Critic
  • Spector talking never fails to hold our interest, but other aspects of the film are less successful.

    Aug 19, 2010 | Rating: 2.5/5 | Full Review…
  • What makes Ecstasy essential viewing for any pop-music fan and any student of celebrity pathology is the interview itself.

    Jun 30, 2010

Audience Reviews for The Agony and the Ecstasy of Phil Spector

He literally said he got the idea for his hair from Ben Wallace's afro, what more do I really have to say. Great documentary about one of the weirdest guy's in pop culture history.

Keith Munley
Keith Munley

Super Reviewer

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