DVD: A Film About Jimi Hendrix

(Warner)

The makers of this 1973 documentary set out to produce a straightforward hagiography, but ended up with something rather different: a film that unwittingly captured the hippy dream curdling in the unforgiving light of the early 1970s. It looks horrible. Every interviewee has that deathly grey Withnail pallor: the roadies, the lovers (psychobabbling dolly-birds going slowly to seed) and, especially, the rock stars. In their late 20s, Pete Townshend and Eric Clapton appear decades older, rheumy-eyed, pasty and bearded thanks to booze and smack. Everyone talks about the 1960s with a wistfulness that's desperately sad, as if discussing a dimly remembered childhood dream rather than a decade that ended just three years previously.

The live footage is now over-familiar, and the archive interviews with Hendrix prove only that being an incredibly gifted musician doesn't necessarily mean you have anything to say. But what should be a bore turns out to be grimly compelling viewing.

Contributor

Alexis Petridis

The GuardianTramp

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