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The Last Waltz (Special Edition)

4.7 out of 5 stars 768 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

It started as a concert. It became a celebration. Join an unparalleled lineup of rock superstars asthey celebrate The Band's historic 1976 farewell performance. Directed by Martin Scorsese (Raging Bull, Goodfellas), The Last Waltz is not only "the most beautiful rock film evermade" (New York Times) it's "one of the most important cultural events of the last two decades" (Rolling Stone)!

Additional Features

For its 25th anniversary, The Last Waltz received a meticulous color-corrected new film transfer approved by director Martin Scorsese and a new digital 5.1 surround audio mix supervised by producer Robbie Robertson, better known as the Band's chief songwriter and guitarist. The DVD adds a crisp anamorphic digital transfer and a clutch of additional features that represent satisfying enhancements to this superb concert documentary. Two full-length audio commentaries tacitly acknowledge the schisms within the surviving membership of the Band: on the first, Scorsese and Robertson deconstruct the film and its production, while the second taps Band drummer Levon Helm and organist Garth Hudson, along with erstwhile mentor Ronnie Hawkins, pop gospel veteran Mavis Staples, and various crew members. A featurette offers new interviews with Robertson and Scorsese, and fans will relish extended "jam footage" of previously unreleased performances by members of the Band, Dr. John, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Paul Butterfield, Ron Wood, Stephen Stills, and Neil Young, although the footage itself never approaches the passion or coherence of the film's best songs. DVD enthusiasts disappointed at the lack of more audio bonuses should pick up the companion restoration of the movie's soundtrack, expanded to four CDs to contain a wealth of previously unreleased performances from the historic 1976 concert. --Sam Sutherland

Special Features

  • New 5.1 audio remix and new transfer
  • Featurette: "Revisiting The Last Waltz"
  • Archival outtakes: Jam 2
  • Photo gallery

Product Details

  • Actors: Robbie Robertson, Muddy Waters, Neil Young, Van Morrison, Neil Diamond
  • Directors: Martin Scorsese
  • Writers: Mardik Martin
  • Producers: Robbie Robertson, Frank Marshall, Joel Chernoff, Jonathan T. Taplin, L.A. Johnson
  • Format: Dolby, NTSC, Color
  • Language: English (Dolby TrueHD), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Parental Guidance Suggested
  • Studio: MGM
  • DVD Release Date: January 31, 2006
  • Run Time: 117 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (768 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00003CXB1
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,305 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Last Waltz (Special Edition)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David A. Bede on June 10, 2002
Format: DVD
Rumor has it that at the debut screening of The Last Waltz in 1977, Ronnie Hawkins stood up at the end of the film and remarked sarcastically, "That was all right, but it sure could've used a few more shots of Robbie!" By now, any serious fan of the Band will be familiar with the antipathy between Robbie Robertson and some of his former comrades. A quarter-century later, this classic movie's disproportionate concentration on Robertson at the others' expense not only remains palpable, it's even more lopsided in the updated version. But for better or worse, that is a key part of the story of the Band; and in retrospect, the Last Waltz is surely an even more accurate documentary than Robertson had aimed for. More importantly, it captures one of the greatest concerts of the rock era.
As Levon Helm relates in his rather bitter memoir "This Wheel's on Fire," the decision to disBand was Robertson's alone and the Last Waltz was a somewhat reluctant exercise on the part of the other four. This shows to varying degrees in the interviews which are dispersed throughout the concert footage: Robertson, who appears far more often than the others, looks animated and a bit rehearsed (although it's hard not to feel some animosity towards him if you've read Helm's book) while the others look tired or worse. (Helm's description of Richard Manuel as "looking like Che Guevara after the Bolivians got done with him" is all too close to the mark!) While unflattering to a degree, the interview scenes do speak volumes about what the music industry did to one of rock's all time greatest bands and the truth about the then-impending breakup. The Band did, after all, reunite sans Robertson as soon as they were legally able to use the name again without his blessing.
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Format: DVD
"The Last Waltz" was one of the very first films I ever purchased new on VHS, and I have enjoyed it consistently for the last 12 years. This movie captures one of the most symbiotic relationships between music and film I have ever seen. Martin Scorsese only had one chance to get this movie right, and he did a great job.
Watch the closeup footage of Levon Helm engulfed in a cool blue light while belting out an amazing version of "Ophelia". Watch Joni Mitchell filmed in a silouhette backstage as she secretly sings backup to Neil Young's "Helpless". Watch Dr. John's hands float effortlessly over the piano keyboard while performing a rousing version of "Such A Night". Watch Rick Danko as he curiously peers over at Bob Dylan, completely unsure of what song they are about to launch into next. Filled with countless moments like these, "The Last Waltz" is pure enjoyment to the very end.
Since falling in love with this movie, I have learned that drummer Levon Helm was a very uncooperative participant in the production of the movie. He was not ready for The Band to quit, he believed that Robbie Robertson wanted to make this movie only to further his "rock star" persona, he did not like the fact that Neil Diamond was involved in this project only because Robbie Robertson had just produced a record for him, and from Day 1, he did not like Martin Scorsese.
Knowing that, it is interesting to note how removed Levon seems to be during the interviews, and how much Robbie playes the "Rock Star" role, professing exhaustion from the road, and not knowing how he can go on with this lifestyle.
I am not saying that Levon or Robbie is right or wrong, I am just saying that it is interesting to watch this movie knowing how at least one of the members of the group felt about the project.
If you care about music and quality filmaking, "The Last Waltz" should be part of your permanent collection.
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Format: DVD
MGM really did an outstanding job with this release. The movie itself is justly celebrated as one of the greatest concert documentaries of all time. The Band is brimming with energy and they play their farewell concert, and the music sounds fantastic in the 5.1 mix. You don't even have to be a huge fan of The Band to enjoy this movie, as long as you like classic rock. There are so many guest stars that join The Band, including Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, The Staples Singers, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, and many others.
There are two outstanding commentary tracks on this dvd. One of them features director Martin Scorsese and Robbie Robertson (of The Band). Over the course of the film, they provide a great deal of insight into the making of the documentary. Equally valuable is the second audio commentary, which features many participants (the other surviving Band members, a few of the guest performers such as Dr. John and Mavis Staples, and several crew members, among others). Although the many participants were recorded separately, the track tightly edited with nary a dull moment. A nice touch: you can select a subtitle feature which will bring up the name of the person who is speaking while the commentary plays.
If all that weren't enough, the 20 minute featurette contains good recent interview footage with Scorsese and Robertson. And there is a 12 minute outtake which is an all-star jam session (the instrumental jam itself isn't all that exciting, but with that kind of line-up it's well worth watching). Even the Still Photo gallery had more care put into it than most dvds, with the photos divided into three sections, many featuring captions to identify what we're looking at.
The movie itself looks and sounds so good, it justifies the purchase. But the supplemental material puts this way above the 5-star level.
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