It started as a concert. It became a celebration. Join an unparalleled lineup of rock superstars as they celebrate The Band's historic 1976 farewell performance. Directed by Martin Scorsese, THE LAST WALTZ is the most beautiful rock film ever made.
Filmed over the Thanksgiving weekend in 1976 and released almost two years later, the documentary captures the final concert by The Band, the group that rose to prominence backing up Bob Dylan in the late 1960s and went on to score a string of hits of their own. By 1976, however, the quartet had been on the road for 16 years and, as Scorsese tells us through brief but insightful interview segments, the rock 'n roll lifestyle had taken its toll. "The numbers start to scare you," sleepy-eyed frontman Robbie Robertson tells Scorsese. "I mean I couldn't live with 20 years on the road. I don't think I could discuss it." THE LAST WALTZ, staged at San Francisco's Winterland hall, was a star-studded love letter not only to The Band, but also to a style of music that was rapidly disappearing in the second half of the 1970s.
The luscious, luminous look of THE LAST WALTZ is no accident. Rather than simply setting up a few cameras to record the moment, Scorsese actually scripted and storyboarded the film, transforming the Winterland into a makeshift soundstage and planning out the sequences as precisely as he did the musical numbers in "New York, New York," which he was in the process of completing at the time. Remarkably, the performances show no signs of being reined in or rehearsed. In fact, as Scorsese's cameras swirl around the musicians, all we see is joy and high spirits. Although Robertson and the rest of The Band are mostly low-key in their interviews, they spring to life onstage. There's palpable passion in drummer Levon Helm's singing on "Dixie" and "Ophelia," and in the playing of bassist Rick Danko and multi-instrumentalist Garth Hudson. Robertson spends much of the concert with an astonished smile on his face, as if he can't believe he's at the center of this celebration.