Last Waltz, The (1978)

Last Waltz, The (1978)

“It’s a goddamn impossible way of life.”

Martin Scorsese films the final concert given by The Band (Robbie Robertson, Richard Manuel, Rick Danko, Levon Helm, and Garth Hudson), which includes guest appearances by numerous big-name musicians.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Concert Films
  • Martin Scorsese Films
  • Musicians
  • Rock ‘n Roll

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that this “marvelous, intimate, emotional documentary by Martin Scorsese made to commemorate the historic farewell performance-celebration by The Band, in San Francisco on Thanksgiving 1976” features a “great concert, with seminal stars like Bob Dylan…, Neil Young, Muddy Waters, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Neil Diamond…, Paul Butterfield, Eric Clapton, Dr. John, and Ronnie Hawkins all in fine form,” and “Ringo Starr and Ron Wood mak[ing] token appearances.” He writes that “the excitement on the stage is apparent as The Band… perform their array of songs for the last time together (including ‘The Weight,’ ‘The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,’ and ‘Stage Fright’) and as they’re joined on stage by their friends, all musical superstars.”

Peary notes that “Scorsese also added some stylized footage of The Band singing and playing with the Staple Singers:

… and then Emmylou Harris (her “Evangeline” is a highlight) on a bare stage in an empty hall.”

Peary writes that “Scorsese begins the film with the final song of the concert and throughout the concert inserts some interesting post-concert interview clips he conducted with Robertson and, to a lesser degree, the other band members about their years on the road when they were an anonymous band rather than The Band.”

These interview clips were apparently an inspiration for This is Spinal Tap (1982), and it’s easy to see how Guest et al. had fun with them.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Fine cinematography by Michael Chapman and others

  • Many memorable and enjoyable musical performance

Must See?
Yes, as a classic concert film by a master director.


  • Important Director


One thought on “Last Waltz, The (1978)

  1. A once-must; the collaboration between Scorsese and The Band makes this a unique concert-capture experience.

    Fave song: ‘Don’t Do It’ (along with the Joni Mitchell sequence).

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