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Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune
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As our country continues to embroil itself in foreign wars, Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune is a timely and relevant tribute to an unlikely American hero. Over the course of a meteoric music career that spanned two turbulent decades, Phil Ochs sought the bright lights of fame and social justice in equal measure - a contradiction that eventually tore him apart.
From youthful idealism to rage to pessimism, the arch of Ochs' life paralleled that of the times, and the anger, satire and righteous indignation that drove his music also drove him to dark despair. In this brilliantly constructed film, interview and performance footage of Ochs is illuminated by the ruminations of Joan Baez, Tom Hayden, Pete Seeger, Sean Penn, Peter Yarrow, Christopher Hitchens and others.
A terrific documentary. --The Hollywood Reporter
Essential.. A must-see! --Entertainment Weekly
Top Customer Reviews
Ochs truly saw song as a form of revolution and was inspired to write about contemporary news stories encompassing subjects as important as the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War. The film interviews family members, music scene contemporaries, political activists, and many more in detailing how important Ochs was to the emerging and changing musical scene of the sixties. These interviews are informative and enlightening and juxtaposed with plenty of archival footage that brings Ochs to the forefront. And through it all, the soundtrack is filled with recordings and concert performances that show Ochs' talent to maximum affect. In addition to the music and the contemporary interviews, Ochs' own words (through past interviews, etc) really make you understand the man--in all his glory and with all his foibles.Read more ›
Years ago there was talk about a film bio of Ochs which was to star Sean Penn (who I think would be perfect). This project never got off the ground but - in 2010 - documentary filmmaker Kenneth Bowser crafted this documentary about Ochs' life and it received limited National distribution. Now that it is out on home video DVD, it should reach a wider audience. While I know Ochs fans - who followed his career - will want to see the film (and it's GREAT!), I hope a younger generation - those born since Ochs' death - will seek it out.
There is really not a lot of performance footage of Ochs out there and I'm surprised that Bowser could dig up this much. (It might help that Phil's younger brother Michael, who became his manager, runs Michael Ochs Archive - one of the largest licensed image collections in the world.Read more ›
I first became aware of Phil Ochs a few years after his death. I have always preferred lyrics of substance to popular songs and love songs. The first time I heard him, I was struck by the anger of his words, which were coolly contrasted by his soothing voice and plaintive guitar. Phil Ochs saw himself as someone who could make a difference and his pointed lyrics were always directed where he thought they could do the most good. Of particular power were the songs he wrote about racial injustice. When N.A.A.C.P activist Medgar Evers was assassinated, Ochs responded with Too Many Martyrs, a song which not only wrung all the possible emotion out of this tragedy, it powerfully skewered the killer's brutality with all the anger and rage appropriate to such a cowardly crime. "While we waited for the future for freedom through the land, the country gained a killer and the country lost a man." This song alone would be a remarkable legacy if it was the only hard-hitting, angry and perfectly placed lyric he ever wrote. But it was just one of dozens of songs that Phil Ochs wrote that seemed to single-handedly take on all the injustices of a generation.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Like all things Phil Ochs, this is both sad and enjoyable. Ochs never got as much credit as deserved. This film was good but not as much as Chords of Fame.Published 2 months ago by Rollin Stone
There couldn't be a better or more complete review of Phil Ochs and his career. Along with a fair amount of live performance clips, you have a very wide and inclusive series of... Read morePublished 3 months ago by dwall
Amazing, powerful documentary about the most underrated American songwriter who ever walked this Earth.Published 10 months ago by MusicMusicMusic
Fantastic film biography even for people not interested in Phil Ochs or folk music as the story of the man and his times (the turbulent sixties) is simply phenomenal! Read morePublished 15 months ago by Steve Z
Great documentary about a somewhat obscure folk singer/song writer who mainly focused on war protest and current news events such as civil rights in the 60's. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Skip Idol
I could've done without commentary from convicted "statutory" rapist ( I recall she was 14), Peter Yarrow, but this is an otherwise excellent documentary about the REAL... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Arthur Frame