Five decades in the making, this unforgettable concert film captures the magic of an artist at the peak of her powers.
Over two days at Los Angeles’ New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in 1972, Aretha Franklin recorded the legendary gospel album Amazing Grace, performing to a rapt audience, including the likes of Mick Jagger, the songs she sang in her childhood. Visionary director, Sydney Pollack had the insight to capture this truly momentous moment in musical history. His skill lay in capturing Franklin’s talent as she found herself back in an environment that nurtured her, surrounded by her real audience, moved deeper by the power in her voice.
Painstakingly reassembled by producer Alan Elliott, Aretha’s triumphant performance can finally see the light of day. At the centre of it, she seems at once completely invested and coolly removed. She pours out her songs, her voice flowing one into the next. Meanwhile her congregation sporadically throw their hands in the air, dance in the aisles, saunter in and out. Perfectly imperfect.
Amazing Grace: less a conventional documentary, more an astounding historical document, a rapturous living history to the magnitude of Aretha. (Research Chris Coetsee) Don’t miss Aretha or Ella (Wed 15th)