- The Grateful Dead as your musical Tour Guides... Brilliant! 6/3/2017 12:00:00 AM by Marc_Israel_365
Director Amir Bar-Lev has accomplished the impossible. His task was to create a documentary that encompassed all of the facets and angles that created, invigorated and surrounded not only an evolutionary rock band over 50 years, but their horde of tour family and endless supply of fans. I leave this film experience recognizing so much of my personal Dead Head past without having to chase reliving it from show to show.
The history: At the heart of this movie is the history of the Grateful Dead. Just seeing Jerry Garcia and the band in their energetic youth helps the later generation of fans experience them before age and excess had chipped away at the band. It's a documentary, and that's never lost on the film maker. The origins, the acid, the music, the band members, the myths, the travelings.... all explained without further internet search.
The interviews: Sam Culter (Tour manager 1970-1974) appears throughout (filmed outside his van) gives a consistently unique and uncompromising view that is can't miss stuff. Al Franken, Nick Paumgarten and Steve Silberman also give intelligent and hilarious insight to the Dead Head phenomena.
The editing: The documentary works best in it's editing of interviews as if they were an ongoing conversation, much like the bands' musical ideal. The timing of the introduction/insertion of specific songs (of which there are a plethora to choose from) is both uplifting and quite poignant. There are numerous slick vignettes that are almost Tarantino-like. The film moves at a meaningful pace as it covers 238 minutes
The music: Is it me or did I find alternative versions of songs without singing backing a good portion of the documentary? The earlier live practice footage with Jerry leading the are priceless. The studio versus live arguments (mainstream media versus organic growth) is covered throughout, which would be for those not yet initiated. Love the tapers section explained in detail. "These guys completely get me", is something the vast majority of Dead heads who felt unique must be saying about the film makers!
Jerry immortalized: If you had any doubts about who was the leader of the Grateful Dead, doubt no more. Jerry is portrayed as equally a cool dude, childishly idealistic, musically dedicated whose burden of being the leader of The Dead took it's toll. How could it not?
The fans: If you are streaming this on Amazon; Prime, it's Episode V. This is the best synopsis of "what the hell is going on" at a Grateful Dead show. I've tried to explain this to people over the decades, and everything I've attempted to extrapolate from my experience is here, as well as everything that someone with my limitations wouldn't be able to iterate. Wow, was that fun!
The ending: We all know that Jerry hasn't been of this world for decades and it simply hurt all over again. It's like your parents would rhetorically ask you, "Well, how'd you think this was all going to end?" At that point it's clear that this is really the Jerry Garcia story and there was no context to them talking about how the Grateful Dead experience continues.... and yet it does for many...
- Dead Cred Abounds 6/4/2017 12:00:00 AM by chatless46
There are a few surprises in this series. None are really startling, but they make you understand more why you like this band in the first place. If you don't, hear them more. The Grateful Dead have all the goods: Joy, bravery, humanity, and musicianship. They're not without fault - see "humanity".
This an excellent series for fans and, I hope, soon-to-be-fans. Advice: don't skip the credits. Their soundtracks are worth it.
- A Truly Beautiful, Masterful and Moving Journey 3/20/2017 12:00:00 AM by johnny-white-1
I had the good fortune of viewing this documentary at a screening organized for friends of some of the folks involved in putting the film together. I had a bit of an appreciation for the Grateful Dead prior to viewing this film, but now I have a newly discovered fascination with the Dead, and feel like I could easily and happily be a Dead Head! I think this film is extraordinarily important as it chronicles one of the most iconic bands in history, in a way that has never been done before. I wholeheartedly recommend this film.
- It's an Experience... 3/11/2017 12:00:00 AM by dialminter
This is a must for any Dead Head. But, I would love to believe it is also a brilliant way to initiate someone on the Dead, if they can allocate the time! It's a wonderful journey through the 50 years of the Dead, with a truly masterful soundtrack (make sure to get a good sound system for your listening enjoyment). The editing is great. Lots of great interviews of the group, crew, friends and family. To be seen again!
- ...wherever he goes the people all complain... 6/7/2017 12:00:00 AM by vrajabhumi
How do you explain the Grateful Dead phenomena to one who hasn't experienced it? How do you explain color to someone who sees in black and white? You can experience the Dead or color and not understand what others see in it. It can be just another music act or just another shade of gray or black or white. This doc tries to explain the mystical connection to the Dead, because really that is what it is - the initials GD are not an accident, nothing is. As the origin of the name "Grateful Dead" is explained in the early going of the doc a famous conception from Hegel came to me, "Die to Live." Which to me sums up the message of this movie as it pounds home the same message over and over about the nature of Jerry Garcia's vision for his life and music. The life lived outside the box, always moving in a new direction, fun as the purpose of life. As for a history of the Dead there are new things here, but there is only so much you can do with a 4 hour movie and there are some autobiographies that serve that function much better. This is more like an introduction into "Jerry Garcia and His Cult of the Dead." More so than what occurs around other musicals acts what binds the real Deadheads (rather than just those who appreciate the music or whatever), is a similar "divine" experience in the music, live or otherwise. And of course that is/was based on the psychedelics people take as this doc tries to make clear in the early going. The metaphysical nature of psychedelics combined with a band that was divinely designed to express the divine metaphysical mysteries of the universe in a way that can touch everyone individually tried to be explained. For example it's why so many of the lyrics are so opaque so often - they need to be so they can reveal different things in the moment to each individual in due course of time. Through music the Dead opened up a divine world of deep ecstasy for the newly psychedelically sensitized and spiritually opened people who often found themselves reborn into a world of higher dimensional/transcendental possibilities - a higher reality was promised - and it was delivered. "G-D well I declare have you seen the...light?" Reborn in song, past conceptions on the limitations of reality now dead, we are grateful. Can you explain the Dead? Sure. Can people understand the Dead? Only the initiates.