P R E S S R E L E A S E S 2002
December 23, 2002
MASS MoCA Screens The Last Waltz January 23
(North Adams, Mass.)Critics have called The Last Waltz "the greatest rock concert movie ever made - and maybe the best rock movie period" (Chicago Tribune), "Martin Scorcese's giddiest most euphoric film" (Philadelphia Inquirer), and "the single best movie about rock 'n' roll and only rock 'n' roll ever made" (Bill Wyman on Salon.com). The Last Waltz lovingly documents The Band's 1976 farewell concert at Winterland in San Francisco, and MASS MoCA will screen the film on Thursday, January 23, at 8:00 P.M. as part of the Cinema Lounge series.
The pantheon of rock stars who joined in this tribute is astounding. The Last Waltz is a veritable encyclopedia of the popular music of the 1960s. Through their guest soloists, the Band touches base with all of the major and some of the minor pop styles of the decade: folk music (Joni Mitchell, Neil Young), folk rock (Bob Dylan), the blues (Muddy Waters, Paul Butterfield, Eric Clapton), country and western (Emmylou Harris), gospel (The Staples), rock 'n' roll (Ronnie Hawkins, Van Morrison), New Orleans sound (Dr. John), and Tin Pan Alley (Neil Diamond). Ringo Starr is on hand to represent the Beatles, and Ron Wood the Rolling Stones.
The film is frequently cited for the way it captures a bygone era. As Bill Wyman of The Atlanta Journal Constitution sees it, "The Last Waltz is our best insight to a moment when the giants of the previous decade raged against time, in the shadow of an age that changed them all inalterably." The movie and the band gained new resonance recently with the resurgence in popularity of traditional music like that heard on the Grammy-winning O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack. The film was digitally remastered in 2002 for a 25th anniversary re-release.
The stories surrounding the production are legendary. Once Scorcese took on the project, he decided to do what had never been done for a serious rock movie -- film it in 35mm, under controlled conditions. That meant turning Winterland from a concert venue into a film studio, with an appropriate set; stationary and moving cameras; storyboarded songs; and an intense communications network to capture what was needed to be captured. Scorsese brought in Boris Leven, who had been production designer on West Side Story and The Sound of Music, to create a set, and hired famed cinematographers Vilmos Szigmond, Laszlo Kovacs, and Michael Chapman to capture the action.
Bill Wyman, critic for The Atlanta Journal Constitution, says, "All of Scorsese's preparations combined to imbue The Last Waltz with a production sheen that, while never rendering the performance antiseptic or polished, gives it, paradoxically, a momentousness. Previous rock movies, virtually without exception, had been made cheaply and on the fly. This show, by contrast, was lit for high-quality filmmaking and was being shot by several of the most brilliant cameramen in the world; the performers' faces glow, become alive. Scorsese's extravagant plans -- a network of moving cameras and refocusing lenses -- combine to capture, seemingly, every nod and wink that passes between the artists. You can see the members of the Band, familiar with each other after 16 years on the road, each playing his part confidently and independently; but when others came on, you can see the members' antennae become alert; shrugs, glances, nods and smiles drive the concert forward. Scorsese humanizes the performance in a way that is without parallel in rock films."
The showing is part of MASS MoCA's Cinema Lounge series which features music documentaries in "Club B-10, the revamped B-10 theater. The Cinema Lounge series is sponsored by Berkshire Gas and supported by Holly Angell Hardman.
Tickets for The Last Waltz are $5.50. MASS MoCA members receive a 10% discount. Tickets are available through the MASS MoCA Box Office located off Marshall Street in North Adams from 11 A.M. until 5 P.M. (closed Tuesdays). Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 during Box Office hours or purchased on line at www.massmoca.org.
MASS MoCA, the largest center for contemporary visual and performing arts in the United States, is located off Marshall Street in North Adams on a 13-acre campus of renovated 19th-century factory buildings.
MASS MoCA 1040 MASS MoCA Way North Adams, MA 01247 413.MOCA.111 www.massmoca.org
For Immediate Release