Few variations on the documentary form are as beloved and sanctified as the music documentary and its proverbial cousin, the concert doc. For instance, almost no movies released in the 1980s, no matter their genre or form, have a reputation as ironclad as Jonathan Demme‘s Stop Making Sense, a chronicle of Talking Heads’ mesmerizing, active live shows. Something similar could be said about Martin Scorsese‘s The Last Waltz in the 1970s. Even if you cut out the glut of the docs about The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, the list of great music docs, rockumentaries, and the like is imposing, from Jem Cohen‘s Instrument and 20,000 Days on Earth to We Jam Econo: The Story of the Minutemen and last year’s Supersonic.
Scorsese, however, is a bit of a master of this particular type of movie. Not only did he direct The Last Waltz with unprecedented intimacy, he also helmed No Direction Home: Bob Dylan, George Harrison: Living in the Material World, and Shine a Light, the most recent Rolling Stones concert doc. He’s also produced Lightning in a Bottle, Antoine Fuqua‘s documentary about the blues, and Peter Gabriel: Live at Athens 1987 but most recently, he produced a four-hour-long documentary on The Grateful Dead called Long Strange Trip for director Amir Bar-Lev, the gifted filmmaker behind The Tillman Story. Now, Amazon has picked up rights to that doc just days before its bow at Sundance, with plans to release the massive movie as a six-part miniseries on Amazon Prime. The series will debut on May 26th but you’ll likely hear some early word as to the quality of Bar-Lev’s film coming out of Sundance in the coming weeks. That being said, having Bar-Lev and Scorsese’s names behind it all but guarantees that Long Strange Trip will be one of the great streaming events of 2017.
Here’s the synopsis for Long Strange Trip:
Set to debut May 26 on Amazon Prime Video in the US and UK as a six-part documentary, with additional territories to be announced, Long Strange Trip probes the creative forces, subversive ambitions, and interpersonal dynamics that drove the Grateful Dead in their 30-year quest for moments of collective inspiration. By inventing a unique fusion of folk, jazz, R&B, avant-garde experimentation, world music and rock and roll, they earned the devotion of the most committed fan base in the music business, while gleefully disdaining every cliché of pop success.