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Amazing Grace

ARETHA FRANKLIN: AMAZING GRACE is a fascinating, dazzling historic document about a career highlight of one of the greatest singers of the 20th century, and about the production of one of her most successful albums.

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In 1972 Sidney Pollack, one of the most well-renowned new Hollywood directors, got commissioned to film the recording sessions of Aretha Franklin‘s gospel album “Amazing Grace.“ The recording was at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles in front of a live audience. It was meant to simulate the baptist service as “authentically“ as possible. The album became a huge success, but Sidney Pollack‘s film footage disappeared in the archives for decades, allegedly due to technical difficulties. Upon seeing the film that was completed by Allan Elliot last year, you start suspecting it was something else. AMAZING GRACE isn‘t an immersive concert film that you can sink into, it‘s a film about a simulation. Pollack shows the hustle and bustle and the technical difficulties, he shows the problems that the technical delays cause when it comes to the audience‘s mood, reverend James Cleveland‘s attempts at reanimating the crowd, the somewhat forced ecstatsy of the Southern California Community Choir. The holy spirit is invoked in a Baptist service, here it‘s just staged. The musical quality of the recording are exceptional. Aretha Franklin sings in an earth-shatteting way. But she isn‘t the charismatic, powerful, dancing soul queen here, but rather a quiet, deeply focused – and deeply religious – artist who stands like a living statue on stage between the songs while the production swarms around her. AMAZING GRACE is a fascinating, dazzling historic document, not just of a career highlight of one of the greatest singers of the 20th century, but also of her audience. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards lean against a wall in a hidden corner, alert and attentive, as if they don‘t want to miss one moment. You don‘t want to miss a moment today either.

Tom Dorow

Translation: Elinor Lewy

Credits

Original title: Amazing Grace
USA 2018, 120 min
Genre: Documentary, Music Films, Konzertfilm
Director: Sydney Pollack, Alan Elliott
Montage: Jeff Buchanan
Distributor: Weltkino
Cast: Aretha Franklin
FSK: oA
Release: 28.11.2019

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