The Last Waltz The Band 1978- Van Morrison, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan [Blu-ray] 2010


Martin Scorsese's 1978 capsule history of the Band is mixed with footage of the group's allegedly last performance (certainly their last performance as a quintet) in this particularly stylish concert film. Scorsese shoots the players and their sundry guests with the same flair and enthusiasm one can see in the later The Color of Money or Goodfellas. He also proves a good interviewer with Band members, particularly Robbie Robertson, whose sleepy-sexy good looks make a star-caliber impression in close-up.

 But the film's real hook is the stage show, which features a rotation of rock legends (Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Paul Butterfield, Bob Dylan, and so on) playing with the Band before a wildly appreciative audience

It started as a concert. It became a celebration. Join an unparalleled lineup of rock superstars as they celebrate The Band's historic 1976 farewell performance. Directed by Martin Scorsese (Raging Bull, Goodfellas), The Last Waltz is not only "the most beautiful rock film evermade" (New York Times) it's "one of the most important cultural events of the last two decades

Those who did not see The Last Waltz in theaters are in for a treat. The Blu-ray is remarkably film- like, with contrast, resolution and grain normally associated with filmstock. Noise is minimal, and the picture is remarkably clean and detailed, while retaining warmth. Even the definition visible in the menu's navigation bar is resolved gorgeously, giving a more modern look and feel, as well as excellent navigation to The Last Waltz. The film is also made timeless by Scorsese's attention to camera angles, framing and lighting. Unlike most concert footage where the long shots are jittery and the close-ups miss the mark, The Last Waltz focuses on the key areas to see at any given moment, whether it's the facial expression of a musician or the entire band on the stage. The 1080p resolution instantly communicates details unresolved in NTSC versions, including fabric textures, hair, or in Neil Young's case a bit of white powder near his nose, rumored to be cocaine. The definition is fantastic and dramatically improves the footage compared to DVD releases. 

Aside from the camerawork, the real gift of The Last Waltz is the music, and the BD production offers a significant upgrade over the CD and DVD versions. The 5.1 lossless PCM is a treat with extended treble, solid midrange and taught bass. Every instrument is audible and images superbly in the soundstage, which is lush deep and vibrant. Listen to Joni Mitchell sing backup vocals in Helpless. Female voices are an excellent reference for judging the audible merits of recordings, and here Mitchell sounds full and with gorgeous timbre. Throughout her subsequent performance of Coyote, the way she breaks from spoken words into more melodic placement of the notes soars above the taught rhythmic pulse of The Band. The mix shows each of the instruments off well, with no audible congestion that tends to make instruments sound like they're tripping over each other in.

 

 

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