Ended on 11/2/2010
LEONARD COHEN LIVE AT THE ISLE OF WIGHT 1970 -
2009 - USA - English - 64 minutes - Sony Music Entertainment
Directed by: Murray Lerner
Featuring: Leonard Cohen, Jimi Hendrix, Joan Baez
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Forty summers ago on a windswept island just off England’s southern coastline, a young Canadian folksinger-songwriter-poet-novelist named Leonard Cohen delivered the performance of a lifetime, an inspired, never-to-be equaled set that has now been immortalized in LEONARD COHEN LIVE AT THE ISLE OF WIGHT 1970, a new documentary from Academy Award-winning filmmaker Murray Lerner (Festival, Message to Love).
It was two in the morning on August 31, 1970, and Jimi Hendrix had just whipped up a wild Dionysian spirit among the 600,000 people who had crashed the third annual Isle of Wight music festival, trampling the fences, breaking down barriers, and setting fire to structures and equipment in the spirit of anarchy.
It was up to Cohen to bring the mob back from the brink, and he did so with a spellbinding set of songs that have gone on to become touchstones of a generation, including “So Long, Marianne,” “One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong,” “The Stranger Song,” “Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye,” “Suzanne,” “Bird On The Wire,” “You Know Who I Am,” “Tonight Will Be Fine,” “The Partisan,” “Seems So Long Ago, Nancy,” “Diamonds In The Mine,” “Sing Another Song Boys,” and “Famous Blue Raincoat.”
As British rock journalist and BBC commentator Sylvie Simmons recalls in her notes for the film, “It was a brilliant performance. Lerner’s cameras captured Cohen’s commanding presence, hypnotist’s charm, and an intimacy that would seem unfeasible in such a vast, inhospitable space.” Musician Bob Johnston describes it as “magical, from the first moment to the last…I’ve never seen anything like it. He was just remarkable.”
In 2008, Lerner combined his long-archived concert footage with new interviews featuring fellow festival headliners Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Kris Kristofferson and musician Bob Johnston, who recall in detail the experience of that historic night. The result is LEONARD COHEN LIVE AT THE ISLE OF WIGHT 1970, a film that captures not just Cohen’s performance but the experience of being part of a once-in-a-lifetime communal experience.
LEONARD COHEN LIVE AT THE ISLE OF WIGHT 1970 will open at New York City’s Cinema Village on January 22, 2010 for a weeklong engagement, bringing one of the greatest nights of music history to the screen for the first time.
For those who remember and those who wished they had been there, LEONARD COHEN LIVE AT THE ISLE OF WIGHT 1970 is a heady, inspiring journey into a moment in time that was defined by music, poetry, and the unquenchable spirit of youth.
“What (Murray) Lerner captures is utterly magical, and not to be missed …this is top-notch Cohen.”