Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Band Called Death

Last weekend I saw an interesting movie and I’d like to share my impressions with you.

The movie in question is A Band Called Death (2012) and it is a documentary about a 1970s black punk trio whose music managed to become a success 30 years after it was made.

Original movie poster: ©
For me there are three sides to accessing this movie; the music, the life and the movie itself and I would like to say a thing or two about each of those things.

The music:

As and avid concert-goer and a person quite engaged in both enjoying music and music trivia this is a wonderful puzzle piece in World musical puzzle. The band - created by three black guys (!), playing punk before punk and calling themselves Death in a world that runs on sugarcoating - is an aberration to say the least and this is what musical side of this story rests upon. Through the movie we see bunch of short commentaries by popular musicians like Henry Rollins and Jello Biafra and also by people from the music business like producers and label owners and music bloggers and collectors and if this was the only meaning behind the story this would be something fast forgotten because however it sounds surprising there is no real-life weight. It just seems like long-tail nerd business, a legend that gets told and retold only by particular subculture as a way of recognition and kind of rite of passage for aspiring music geeks.

But this is not only meaning behind the story, oh no. This is just the front porch at which you stand while just knocking at the door

...and then the door opens...

and on the inside there is a kind smile and smell of coffee, promise of lemonade, and you - the movie viewer - are ushered into a world of hope and dreams.

This is the life.

The documentarists did not stop on the front porch, showing us only the story of musicians. They knocked on the door and were welcomed into the lives of people - grooms, fathers, brothers, children, employees, house owners, devout believers, students, pack rats and grieving widows. In this movie we see life of a musician for what it really is: another constituent part of life among other roles the person has and it is a role that is sure to bring happiness just as likely as sorrow. These people, brothers and partners in this music endeavor, lived this story and they talk about it here. The story is about music but even more it is about personal relationships, about humanity and trust and hope and adversity. This movie is sentimental, but not corny, and it is oriented on a person and on love and support and on honesty we rarely witness in family life nowadays. When things look bleak and they feel they have reached the end of the road there is always sincerity and tact and they talk to each other and share and are grateful for the things they have and life rolls on. And some fall in this march but they are never left behind and forgotten nor is the nature twisted and pressed into molds that don't fit. As we watch this story through life progress of these people from being someone's kids into being spouses and having kids of their own we can see that all this steps are made with benevolence and growth, carrying genuine love and care from one generation into the next and this is so lovely and engaging and warm I'd be hard pressed to find a movie to match that even in fiction.

And movie itself is a documentary - truly creating and showcasing a "paper trail" for life.

These guys - Mark Christopher Covino and Jeff Howlet - must have gone through a billion conversations and family pictures and meetings and phone calls and punched in thousands of hours to show this story as beautifully as they did. I do not understand technology they used to make ancient photos come to life but it brought tears to my eyes. No part of this film is unnecessary or too long or out of place. Both archive footage and newly made material is beautifully fresh and put together in a way that both shows and celebrates its content as much as the age and the media itself. It is a perfect marriage of contemporary technology and human skill and imagination and I love how this production feels entirely a human effort in using great tools to make the imagined come to life (instead of tools taking over the scene for themselves).

I recommend to everyone to watch this film no matter which music they like or do they even care about music, as a way to remind one's self that if you go through every day with love and integrity what ever the world serves you whenever you look behind all you see will be good life.

... "For The Whole World To See".


SJ Begonja said...

A music doco that brings tears your eye - wow. I gotta add this to my watch list. Thanks for sharing.

Derza Fanistori said...

You're welcome to comment again after you see it ;-)
We can compare notes :)