The Grateful Dead Movie
The Grateful Dead have been credited with imbibing several audio-visual experiments into the mainstream during their long and strange trip. The Grateful Dead Movie, released theatrically in 1976, captures the cognitive mood and melody of these experiments in all their glory. For years, the movie, mostly filmed over a five-night stand at San Francisco’s famed Winterland Auditorium in October 1974, was only available as a high-priced VHS tape. But as the conveyor belt of Dead-related deliverables continues to roll unabated, it was inevitable the one and only feature film directed by Jerry Garcia would receive a digital makeover. And what a package it is! In addition to the actual movie on one disc, a second disc includes over 90 minutes of performance footage drawn from the same Winterland run, as well as three documentaries, a photo gallery, three versions of a Mars Hotel commercial, and a multi-camera, multi-track audio demonstration that will astound aspiring concert sound engineers and filmmakers. For the uninitiated, The Grateful Dead Movie is a high watermark of the band’s musical and cultural impact. Opening with a mind-blowing, technically-innovative-for-the-times animation sequence, the movie vividly portrays the Dead blazing through its final concerts of the year amidst an accompanying sideshow of roadies, hippy chick dancers, Deadheads, assorted rabble-rousers, and the infamous Wall of Sound P.A. system. With its beautifully restored picture and soundtrack, it just doesn’t get any better.
~ Shawn Perry