I am a massive music documentaries fan. Since I was a kid I used every opporunity to watch anything about the music icons other than official videos. It started with my dad’s VHS collection, where I waited for aftershow footages from Sting, The Police, Sade, Peter Gabriel, U2 and naturally Live Aid 1985. When I started building my collection as a rock teenager there were VHS, DVD or pirate online copies of Black Sabbath, Ozzy, Metallica and various documentaries. I will give space to each but I love Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey, Metal Evolution and BBC – Seven Ages of Rock. Over the years I have gathered plenty of VH1 documentaries including VH1 Documentary on 80s Heavy Metal which I watched at least fifty times. I even have Swedish documentary on Thrash metal and some obscure things on Norwegian black metal. In the first part of the new series I bring you feedback on three music documentaries I watched in the recent weeks: Freddie Mercury – The Great Pretender, Eric Clapton – Life in 12 Bars and Amy Winehouse – Amy. Watch a trailer, if you want, but I don’t do that. It ussualy spoils the whole thing for me. Rather trust me, these documentaries are worth it.
Freddie Mercury – The Great Pretender
I am not a massive Queen fan, but I respect them deeply. Few years ago I read amazing book called Queen Unseen: My Life with the Greatest Rock Band of the 20th Century from Peter Hince who was band’s head roadie for many years. It was hell of a funny book with plenty of amazing behind the scenes stories. It gave me much clearer idea about Freddie’s personality. On the other hand documentary The Great Pretender multiplied this effect ten times further. It shows many aspects of Freddie’s nature and what’s the best, it covers the breaking point of Queen. Freddie is on the peak of his self-confidence, tells so much bad about his co-players and he is hungry for a solo career. In this phase he turns from a rock star into a man. He does the wildest things his heart tells him to do, he experinces both major failures or major successes and soon starts to feel the results of his wild private life. By the end of his life, true legend is born.
Eric Clapton – Life in 12 Bars
Eric Clapton was always for me this mystical figure my dad, my uncles and my older colleagues in music magazines respected. I heard plenty of his stories, liked a few songs, but the relationship was never established. As a music documentaries fan, I came accross this piece a few weeks ago. As I am currently going through a career change, I had a time to go to see the screening recently in a Prague’s cinema called Kino Mat at 2pm. They organise a few times a week screenings for students and elderly at this time for a half price. Well, that day there were only a dozen older folks and one currently unemployed music journalist. I am used to such a role in magazines, where I am open for discussions with older collegues, who are same age as Eric. I bought a small wine and as a massive BB King fan, I started to enjoy every minute. Lili Fini Zanuck did a great job to keep viewers tight to the screen the whole time and present all aspects of Eric Clapton’s life with maximum honesty and class. Clapton Is God!
Amy Winehouse – Amy (2015)
It’s crucial to get as much information as possible, before you will ever try to judge. Actually, not necesserily judging, but rather trying to understand. This very personal and emotional documentary will show you quite objectively the whole journey of an incredible young talent, dealing with childhood traumas, a bad partner and the worst dangers of a big music world. I have big respect for her work, but her life story was a rollercoaster to hell. Towards the end of her life, the paparazzi scenes reminded me of a South Park episode Britney’s New Look. Media, including TV shows stars or comedians as Graham Norton, George Lopez, Jay Leno or Frankie Boyle were one of the many reasons she left this world in such an early age.