Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Springsteen & I - Movie Review

Finally, after months and months of anticipation, the fan-made documentary Springsteen & I made it to Australian shores.
(And finally, after a few days to collect my thoughts on the movie, I’ve got round to writing my review.)

I didn't make the movie, but I did make the poster... (above the 'E' in the third 'THE'...)

As a movie fan, and occasional entertainment reviewer, Springsteen & I is an excellent documentary.
Letting fans tell stories in their own words, with their own experiences captured on video, not only brought out a unique glimpse of Springsteen and the influence of his music, it also made for a more personal approach that would have been missing in a collection of interviews.

It showed Springsteen fans at their best, their funniest, and in terms of the emotional guy driving in the car, at their most unintentionally hilarious and moving at the same time.

Instant highlights are no doubt the story of the Manchester couple where the husband – a Karl Pilkington-alike Brit - gives his thoughts about being dragged around Europe by his Bruce-loving wife, and the Philly Elvis who for a brief moment threatened to steal the show from Bruce.

Together with snippets of classic footage of Springsteen – the Growin’ Up footage a personal favourite as it was the acoustic version of this on Tracks which first hooked me to the music of Springsteen - the film is a gripping insight into the world of a Springsteen fan.

However, as entertaining and unique a film project as it is, for those Springsteen fans that have sweated in the sun with a number on the back of their hand and waited days for a front row position at an E Street Band concert, it merely scratches the surface of life as a Bruce Bud.

There’s barely a mention of people who have spent decades following him around to more than a hundred concerts, and no details of the effort, exhaustion and subsequent reward of a dozen roll calls to get that great spot to strum the guitar during Born To Run.

And there’s no insight either into the comradery and kinship that forms while waiting to see a Springsteen show and the bonds forged by strangers who strike up a conversation based on how they had a mutual understanding of why they’ve given up their time for an experience that ‘other people don’t get because they just haven’t seen him live’.

I have no doubt that all of these points could have been addressed through fan submissions to the film makers. And also that there are countless stories that Springsteen fans thought would have deserved more to be included than the female truck driver in America or the woman in the woods who struggled to stay in shot and at times raised a few Blair Witch Project flashbacks.

For the Springsteen fans looking for their story to be told, or their experiences to be played out on screen whether through their own submission or by that of a seasoned blood brother, the movie may be below what was expected.

But at the same time there is some merit from not going too deep into the world of the proud Springsteen fan.

If there’s one thing the movie does well it’s that it shows the influence of the man and his work for people who aren’t able to hit every show on country’s tour.

The couple dancing in the kitchen to Radio Nowhere who have never been able to make a show was another poignant entry. And I bet every Bruce Bud who has seen anything from one to 100 shows would have been up for buying them a ticket to the next concert they stand in line for.

Meanwhile, in true Springsteen fan style, the movie and its selection of entries – which no doubt would have relied heavily on the visual and sound quality of submissions – shares many qualities of a live E Street Band show.

It will no doubt convert newcomers into picking up a classic album or considering getting a ticket for the next tour.

And in the style of Springsteenradio.com, E Street Radio and the countless Facebook groups, blogs and websites for Bruce bootlegs, just like the incredible versions of live songs we get, the stories that didn’t get told in the movie, will be out there and will be shared by Springsteen fans.

Springsteen & I offers a brief glimpse into the world of Springsteen fans.

But as many Bruce Buds will tell you, it’s no substitute for standing your ground front of the line waiting for the real thing.

What did you make of the movie? Let me know below....