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The Last Waltz Criterion 4K UHD Review

“The Last Waltz” is a top tier concert film.  

Directed by Martin Scorsese, 1978’s “The Last Waltz” documents The Band’s final performance in San Francisco at the Winter Ballroom on Thanksgiving Day in 1976. The concert represented a full circle moment as the Winter Ballroom was the first and last place The Band played. The concert itself might be a farewell, but it’s more of a farewell celebration. Sure, The Band plays classics like “The Weight,” and “I Shall Be Released” but they also play tracks alongside musician guest stars such as Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, and more. A few of the highlights include “Dry Your Eyes” by Neil Diamond, “Forever Young” by Bob Dylan and “Mannish Boy” by Muddy Waters. Included throughout the film are interviews with The Band, poetry readings (which took place during breaks at the concert), and a couple of performances filmed on a sound stage.

Not only is “The Last Waltz” the gold standard of farewell concerts, but it’s also the gold standard of concert films/documentaries. You’ll scarcely see such a wide range of talent in the rock and roll (and other genre) field on stage at one time. It’s very much a 70’s time capsule of musicians in their prime and it also marks an end of an era for The Band itself who ended their 16 year run of live performances.

While the music may be the draw here with electrifying performances of tracks like “Helpless” by CSNY and The Band’s own “Up On Cripple Creek” and “Baby Don’t You Do It,” there’s a fair amount of insightful interviews with The Band members Rick Danko, Richard Manuel, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson and Robbie Robertson. Topics range from the origins of the band’s name to the detriments of being on the road. “The Last Waltz” is the type of concert movie you can go into knowing nothing about the band or even the music and just come away seeing a profound summarization of a band’s legacy.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.85:1 2160p With Dolby Vision HDR. How does it look? The 4K digital restoration is a flat-out stunner. Kudos to the restoration team for giving this film a breathtaking new transfer.

Audio Track: 2001 5.1 DTS-HD MA, 2001 Uncompressed Stereo, and original 1978 2.0. How does it sound? The title card that preces the film states “The film should be played loud!” and that couldn’t be more true. Thankfully, viewers have 3 audio options here to do so and all of them are quality. Personally though, the 5.1 track is far and away the most dynamic (especially if you want to play it loud).

Extras (only the commentaries are on the 4K):
* Trailer and TV spot.
* A booklet with credits and an essay by author Amanda Petrusich.
* Blu-ray copy
* 2 commentary tracks. One by Martin Scorsese and Robbie Robertson and the other by The Band members Levon Helm and Garth Hudson, journalists Greil Marcus and Jay Cocks, producers Steve Prince, John Simon, Irwin Winkler, and Jonathan Taplin, cameraman Michael Chapman, and musicians Dr. John, Ronnie Hawkins and Mavis Staples.
* Outtake Jam Session 2 from the concert with The Band members and a host of musicians that include Neil Young, Stephen Stills, Dr. John, Ringo Starr and more.
* “Revisiting The Last Waltz”- A 2002 documentary with interviews with Scorsese and Robertson, storyboards and more.
* A 1978 interview with Scorsese and Robertson from “90 Minutes Live.”
* A brand new 31 minute interview with Scorsese and Rolling Stone magazine editor David Fear about The Band, music, lyrics, the 70’s and “The Last Waltz.” Easily the best extra here.

March 15, 2022 - Posted by | 4K UHD Review | , , , , , , ,

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