Wednesday, February 27, 2013

History of the Eagles




Directed by Allison Ellwood, History of the Eagles is a two-part documentary exploring the career of one of American popular music’s revered bands led by Don Henley and Glenn Frey. Along with interviews from various members as well as associates, the film explores the band’s career from their hey-day in the 1970s to the break-up that occurred in the early 1980s that would later be followed by a reunion in the early 1990s. The result is a fascinating and entertaining documentary about one of the most popular bands of the 20th Century.

In this documentary that is split into two parts where the first part is about the band’s hey-day in the 1970s to their break-up in 1980 while the second part is about the band’s 1994 reunion and afterwards as they’ve become bigger than ever. While its leaders Don Henley and Glenn Frey both do a lot of commentaries since they did find the band with original members Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner. They do allow the former members that include Don Felder to have their say in the interviews while letting other members in Timothy B. Schmidt and Joe Walsh have their say. Other personnel such as manager Irving Azoff and people like J.D. Souther and Jackson Browne are among those who are interviewed for the film.

Throughout the bulk of the film, the band and Azoff do reveal a lot of wild stories about drugs and such as the film does reveal some archive footage of the band’s wild days in the 70s. Notably as it included a third encore in which a beautiful naked lady is dancing onstage while the band is playing. How can anyone not enjoy that? The band is also upfront about the fact that they’re not always likeable guys for the fact they can be assholes. The stories about Leadon and Meisner’s departures definitely show a side of why they left where both Henley and Frey were quite fair towards them about why those guys left. Yet, Frey is a bit more outspoken as it relates to former guitarist Don Felder who was fired from the band in 2001 over financial disagreements.

There is controversy over the way Frey and Henley handled Felder’s termination over the fact that Frey and Henley get a bigger pay check over everyone else. Then again, they wrote most of the songs and are the leaders of the band. At least Felder got a chance to state his case while Frey states his case for the band. There are also revelations into why the band broke up in 1980 where a lot of answers are revealed as well as the fact that there was some regret over the way things were handled towards the end. Many of the film’s first part that chronicles the band’s early beginnings to their 1980 break-up is definitely the strongest section of the film. Notably for some of the entertaining moments such as a recording of a 1980 benefit show where Glenn Frey wanted to kick Don Felder’s ass over what Felder said to a senator.

The film’s second part about the aftermath of the break-up and their eventual reunion isn’t as interesting since there’s a few moments where things lag a bit. Still, there are moments that are interesting that included Joe Walsh’s substance abuse issues and how he was able to get clean before the band’s 1994 reunion tour. Through Alison Ellwood’s direction, she definitely gathers a lot of rare footage of the band from the early years as well as some inspiring dramatic shots courtesy of cinematographer Samuel Painter. With sound designer Ruy Garcia and sound editor Philip Stockton, the band’s music is given some remastering that includes the band’s 1977 Washington D.C. concert which was sort of the band at their peak at the time. Overall, Ellwood crafts a very insightful and fun documentary about the Eagles.

History of the Eagles is a remarkable documentary about the famed country-rock band that will definitely please fans as well as people who are casual fans of the group. While they aren’t for everyone, the band does make their case into why they’re so popular as well as being upfront for the fact that they can be assholes at times. In the end, History of the Eagles is an excellent documentary from Allison Ellwood.

© thevoid99 2013

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