At first glance of the 2nd wave of BLU-RAY release announcements, “THE LAST WALTZ” didn’t appear to be a terrific choice, especially over bigger films that have been delayed like “BLACK HAWK DOWN” and more. But, this reviewer was pleasantly surprised by the quality and overall impact of this concert film on BLU-RAY.
Obviously, a lot of credit belongs to Director Martin Scorsese. After 16 years of performing, “THE BAND” decided to go out with a classy finale, paying homage to their beginning. They chose the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco, the site of their first performance. “THE BAND” had a original sound, blending rock, folk and blues. Each member was impressive in their own right, but the combination of such talent created a astonishing performance. Another thing impressive about “THE BAND” and the film, relates to their respect for those other musicians that helped them get where they were. This sense of humility on part of “THE BAND” is why “THE LAST WALTZ” includes so many other great performers, in addition to “THE BAND”. Neil Diamond, Joni Mitchell, Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan, are but a few of the other incredible performers featured in this grand event.
What makes “THE LAST WALTZ” so different than most “rock documentaries” is Scorsese’s take on this genre. There’s none of the background history footage that viewers could either like or become bored with. Instead, he inter-cuts interviews with members of the group and footage of the actual location surroundings.
Unlike most concert films, “THE LAST WALTZ” never seems abridged. Scorsese blends footage from various cameras in a smooth manner that never calls attention to itself.
SONY has preserved the correct 1.85:1 aspect ratio for this release in 1080p. Colors are surprisingly rich for a concert film of this age, and while grain is apparent at times, the detail is often incredible. There are shots of the musicians, where even in night footage, their facial characteristics are staggering to behold.
SONY has provided an incredible uncompressed 5.1 mix. This is a perfect “DEMONSTRATION QUALITY” BLU-RAY release! The opening image states “THIS FILM SHOULD BE PLAYED LOUD” and truer words have not been said! The fidelity presented here makes this one of the greatest sounding concert films ever released in any format.
SONY has carried over the commentary with Scorsese, previously available on dvd.