Tuesday, August 17, 2004

"Do you know why I like Liverpool Mr. Sutcliffe?"

As promised, a DVD review. This time? Backbeat, a film very close to my heart. Why? Honestly, I can't really say.

It's one of the very few films that I can distinctly remember watching for the very first time. That may sound weird, but it's like a song, one of those songs that everytime you hear it takes you back. You can remember everything from that little span of time, be it hours, minutes, days. It just moves you that much.

For me it was 1995, a Saturday night, during the summer. I can't tell you the exact date, but I remember it was late, probably after midnight. I was the only one awake, naturally, and I was laying on the coucj flipping channels. Now, I was only sixteen, but my love of movies had already set in, and the fact that we were getting a sneak preview of Showtime was pretty exciting. So, I flip it to see what's on, and catch the very beginning of Backbeat.

Now, apparently the movie got alot of press, but being so young and without access to tools almost everyone has today, I'd never heard of it. Digital cable didn't exist, so there was no finding out there either. No, all I knew was that it was rated R, and at fifteen that was usually enough for me.

The next hour and a fourty-one minutes I spent learning the history, the real history, of the greatest band in the history of rock music. Now, I knew who the Beatles were, in fact at fifteen I knew alot about them. My mother was a musician and if that gave me anything it was a diverse taste in music. Still, I didn't know about these Beatles. I didn't know about Stuart Sutcliffe.

For those that don't know, Backbeat is Stewart's story. It's about his friendship with John, his love affair with Astrid (forgive me, I'll butcher her last name, so it's omitted), and his decision to walk out of what would become the greatest phenomenon the world had ever seen.

As director Iain Softley puts it, until now these people were just a footnote in the history of the Beatles. This is their story.

Sadly, Stu died before John, Paul, Ringo, and George achieved their fame, in fact, died right before it happened, so he never got to see what became of his friends. He only knew them as dreamers. Stu was a painter, a damn good one, and it's believed by many that had he not died he would've been just as huge as the band he left behind.

The movie itself is a beutiful examination of a man's life, and the choices he makes. How those choices can lead you to the greatest moments in your life, and sink you into the depths of hell all at the same time. It's about friendship and loyalty, love and jealousy, art, music, freedom, and how those things play into the people we become.

The DVD is loaded with great features, including a directors commentary, with actors Ian Hart and Stephen Dorff. Two deleted scenes, an interview with Softly, an interview with Hart and Softly, and casting sessions. It also includes an essay written by the director of the film himself on the subject, and a photo gallery of behind the scenes pics.

No, it's not the most feature-laden disc you'll ever find, but it's more than enough to take you into what this talented group of people were attempting to create.

Even after almost ten years the movie still moves me, it takes me back to being fifteen, sitting on the couch, up past my bedtime probably, watching the untold history of the Beatles unfold before my eyes. The end is still as emotionally draining now as it was the first time I watched it. It never fails to bring tears.

As I said, the list is relatively small, Shawshank Redemption, Jurassic Park, Almost Famous, and Backbeat. All of them instantly send me back the exact point in time I first watched them. Backbeat remains and surely always will, one of the very best movies I've ever had the pleasure of watching, and it's definitely one of the most powerful.

-L

1 comment:

Johnny B said...

Nice review. I posted my thoughts on it over in the comments section at my place where you posted. :)

One other thing- I associate Backbeat with being up way past when I should be in bed, 'cause it always seems to get shown in the wee hours on cable, and that's when I tend to run across it while flipping through the channels.

Speaking of which, I'm going to bed now.