A fond farewell to a legendary band, In Style.
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The band were a group of ordinary men that started off from very humble roots in small towns across southern Ontario and Arkansas. Through their extraordinary talent and hard work that they were able to leave an impressive and lasting mark on the music industry. The Last Waltz is the bands final swan song on a 16 year roller coaster, that led them to strange places, let them meet a lot of people, and let them do what they did so well and that they were passionate about. The band met a great deal to a lot of people, and with a little help from some friends they brought down the house. It was a truly remarkable and historical event that we are fortunate was captured on film.
It took place at the Winterland ballroom in San Fransisco, the same place they got their first gig as the band some eight years earlier. It documents the final concert, with a few interviews of the band cut in between. They talk about a few funny stories from the road, and how they got their name The Band. Also Rick Danko takes Scorsese to their Shangri-La studio where he had since been recording his solo music. The film starts out with them actually coming out for the encore, they play a cover of the Marvin Gaye song "don't Do it". The band play a bunch of their songs but they also jam with musicians like Ronny Hawkins, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Muddy Watters, Dr. John, Van Morrison and many other great artists.
The project was a monumental task for both Scorsese and the band. Scorcese meticulously laid out the storyboards and lighting cues for every song. He also hired a production designer to give some colour and a bit of a facelift to the Winterland ballroom. Scorcese hired seven of the industries best cinematographers to work the seven 35mm cameras that he got to shoot the concert. with technical glitches, camera breakdowns and film run outs the camera teams had an arduous task, but they did an amazing job to capture some great shots. However it wasn't all perfect, a couple of the bands key songs were not captured so on the days following the show the band shot those songs on a separate soundstage. The band also on top of playing their own songs had to learn a whole bunch of other peoples songs, and practice with not much time leading up to the show.
They did however pull it off and it was beautiful, the concert was amazing, and the hard work of Scorsese and his crew really showed. It visually looked really crisp and his camera teams really did a great job of capturing facial expressions to show the passion that the band really has for music. Considering Robertson really only wanted to shoot it on 16 mm with little production value, it was almost seen as a nothing throw away job, but Scorsese put a lot of himself into this project and that's why the Last Waltz is hailed as one of the best music documentaries of all time. For one of the best bands of all time who better than one of the best directors of all time to tell their story.