Monday, June 18, 2012

#3 Patti Smith: Dream of Life (2008)

"How does it feel to be a rock icon? When they say that, I always think of Mount Rushmore."
She might be 65 and have the reputation of being a dead serious rock poet, but as this film shows she also has humour.

How would one make a film about a musician that - besides being the right place at the right time with the right people - has rightly chiseled herself a spot in the mythology of the golden age of rock? We all know that even rock icons are human beings. But with all fuzz that surrounds them it's easy to forget. Even for themselves. It seems that - even though the life of rock stars will always feel somewhat staged - Patti Smith has kept both her feet on the ground.

Steven Sebring's 2008 documentary probably doesn't dispel many myths about Patti Smith. Maybe because she already actually is down to earth. We both get to see the rock'n'roll circus, but also meet her parents and kids. We see Patti as a fan of other artists as well as a strong believer in not forgetting those who passed away. We get a taste of a bit of humdrum daily life. But it's not like ours. At the end of the day rockstars like Patti Smith still represent a sense of freedom most people long for. Which is why we are so fascinated by them.

The film makes me think about... what makes a rock star? Talent, charisma, luck, determination, being a free spirit? It's probably all that and more with Patti Smith.

"Dream of Life" could be a mess of different styles and moments filmed over 11 years, but it's somehow neatly tied together by Patti herself doing the voice-over on the film. We get great looking black'n'white footage from Japan and around the world - as well as 'home video' with the family.

This was another one of the films I saw when preparing for my own music documentary. Maybe subconsciously Patti's voice-over gave me the idea that I didn't want any on-screen interviews in my film and therefore I only recorded the audio of them. Maybe. It worked fine.

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