My parents were always an oddball lot when it came to music. My mom liked the crooners and if she ever did touch rock and roll, it was something very light and airy. My dad however was a totally different animal. He listened (and still does) to Led Zeppelin, the Moody Blues and Queen. But perhaps one of his favorite albums of all time is Paranoid by Black Sabbath. The front man for Sabbath is the one and only Ozzy Osbourne. I find myself in a fortunate position where I get to review his documentary, God Bless Ozzy Osbourne.
As we open up this documentary, we are told that the makers of this movie have spent the last two years on the road with Ozzy Osbourne. Nearly everyone survived. We visit Argentina as one of Ozzy’s tourstops. We get a very candid look at Ozzy as he puts on makeup, exercises his body and his voice and his slow walk to the stage. He seems to be an everyday normal heavy metal singer but this person who is always been labeled as “Rock n Roll’s definitive crazy person” has a special tale to tell.
Ozzy was actually born John Michael Osbourne in December of 1948. He was the fourth of six children, he had a hard life growing up in Birmingham, England. There really was not too many opportunities in the town, you went to the factory, took on a trade or ended up in jail. Ozzy found himself in each of those places in his teenage years as he could not make it anywhere. He even spent six weeks in Winson Green Prison when he could not pay a fine as a result of a burglary charge.
We join Ozzy at his 60th surprise birthday party and he throws a few vulgarities at the appreciative audience. He has been an influence to so many in the hard rock and metal arena such as Henry Rollins, Tommy Lee, and Zakk Wylde (with the later eventually becoming his personal guitarist for a very long time). But Ozzy has his own influences as when he was still a teenager; he became absorbed by the musical styling of the Beatles. For Ozzy, musical stardom was to come in short order.
In 1969, Ozzy joined the band Black Sabbath with members Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward. Their first four albums really took the musical world by storm and established them as one of the top acts. Ozzy’s voice coupled with harsh hitting guitar chords and dark influences made them a hit in many teenagers’ eyes. However, being the king of the world in his early 20’s, Ozzy Osbourne would start down a dangerous road which involved publicity stunts, alcohol and drugs. This is a story worth telling.
This documentary is actually made by Jack Osbourne, Ozzy’s son. They tell the story of a dad who jumps to stardom with Black Sabbath, eventually gets fired by the band and only to eclipse the band’s fame with his own solo stardom. But in the midst of everything, he isn’t a good father, he gets drowned in addiction, and goes through hell and back to get to a very special and sober place. It is an amazing story, and actually I feel better for seeing all of this footage.
Too often, we know Ozzy as the slurring, mumbling and cursing madman that MTV, tabloids or reality shows have painted him as. Ozzy is a better man now and through his family’s eyes (as well as other friends) we get to understand a little more about the epic lead singer and see what he has been through. The only negative in the proceedings is that I wanted more of it. The documentary only goes for 90 minutes, but I feel as if I could have watched another half hour or forty five minutes easy.
The video is in 1.78:1 widescreen presentation in 1080i resolution. I was pleasantly surprised at the video quality of this documentary. There is a lot of archival and tour footage mixed in with the usual assortment of interviews and current day stuff. Truth be told, I never felt like I was watching an old assortment of home videos but rather well preserved television footage. Good color and solid production values throughout this set.
For the audio portion, we get a 5.1 English DTS-HD track (5.1 Dolby Digital and PCM 2.0 tracks also included). Sound is of good volume but since this is mostly dialogue driven it keeps in the three main speakers. Occasionally it ventures out into the surrounds for some of the concert footage but it does not envelope the viewer like you hoped it would. If nothing else, I can actually understand Ozzy for I would say 95% of this picture, that’s an accomplishment for sure. Subtitles are included for English, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese Netherlands, and Dutch.
- Q&A with Ozzy and Jack 19:46: A pretty good interview with Ozzy and Jack Osbourne that talk about some candid moments that either weren’t discussed or touched lightly on in the documentary. Things such as the paintings that Ozzy works on for therapeutic reasons. Most oddball question? “Jack, Why is Your Dad Alive?” Sadly, nobody is quite sure the exact answer to that question.
- Deleted Scenes 14:25: Eight are included here. Most of these were cut because they simply did not go anywhere. Decent stuff, but a lot of them were Ozzy going off on a tangent which equals a lot of mumbling. The alternate ending was not as touching as the one we ended up with.
- Tribeca Film Festival 4:06: Footage from the film festival that has been around for almost a decade now. A very basic quick featurette.
Some people would probably refer to Ozzy as the madman disciple of the Devil himself. The truth is as the curtain falls, the man prays and thanks the heavens above for still being alive to enjoy his children, his wife Sharon and the millions of fans who listen to his music. The truth is despite his torn down condition, he is more lucid and more alert and in tune with fans than he was in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. He is a special face of rock and roll and truly a legend.
The disc for Bless Ozzy I feel selfish in the respect that I just wanted more of it. More footage, more extras, better video and audio. It is very good, but not quite eclipsing the high bar I think I set for it. This set is highly recommended as well as his two books that were put out not too long ago. His story is special and whether you want to read about it or watch it, I think the general audience will find it very interesting for years to come. Rock on Ozzy, rock on.