A labour of love…the director (Gillian Grisman) has taken home movie and live performance footage to create a compelling documentary about the friendship between her father (David Grisman) and the late Jerry Garcia.
Jerry Garcia best known as the lead guitarist of the Grateful Dead and the lesser known, at least in my musical knowledge, mandolin maestro David Grisman could easily have been separated at birth. The “twin” musicians have a sound all there own and even if the music isn’t to your…liking, the story of their joint efforts is a good one.
The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and the separation during the live concert performances immerses you in the music and the crowd. Of course, a large part of the film is interviews with various people so at these points the audio is rather rudimentary.
Because a large portion of the film was shot on home video cameras you have to be a little forgiving as to the quality of the picture. Surprisingly, the concert footage is quite crisp and clean. There are a few anomalies though. The DVD case says “full screen presentation” but the entire film is letterboxed. Also, I don’t understand when a film is transferred to video, why the makers wouldn’t take the time to clean up the reel change markers that are on the film. Every one of these is fairly obvious throughout the DVD.
On what is basically a very intimate little story you have quite a few extras to choose from. Gillian and David Grisman provide a very real commentary that delves further into the relationship of the two men. There are two bonus unedited live performances, outtakes that are easily just as interesting as the footage in the film, a music video of “The Thrill Is Gone”, discographies of both musicians, and weblinks for DVD-ROM.
Once again there are some glaring errors between the case and the DVD itself. According to the case there are English, French, and Spanish subtitles but the film only has French and Spanish. Director’s Production Notes are also listed but are non-existent on the DVD. The menus are simply laid out with no fancy animation but colourful backgrounds and the usual scene selections are available.
Whether you’re a music lover or a lover of well told stories this documentary is a great history of a friendship that ended too soon with the untimely death of Jerry Garcia. Fortunately, the process of their musical collaboration has been captured for future generations.
Special Features List
- Commentary by David Grisman and director Gillian Grisman
- Production notes
- Theatrical trailer(s)
- Bonus performances including “I’m Troubled” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”
- Unreleased music video: “The Thrill Is Gone”