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Re: Tony Palmer presents "Bird on a wire"

Posted: Sun Sep 05, 2010 5:25 pm
by lightning
"The law is an ass."
Charles Dickens

Re: Tony Palmer presents "Bird on a wire"

Posted: Sun Sep 05, 2010 5:58 pm
by neo
I guess we'll soon learn more about the (various) legal positions, now that UK distribution has started.

(btw. if Sony wants to make some profit they could continue releasing the remaster series... :roll: )

Re: Tony Palmer presents "Bird on a wire"

Posted: Sun Sep 05, 2010 7:04 pm
by TipperaryAnn
Having watched "Bird on a Wire" my first reaction was no surprise that Leonard did not want this released after the 1972 tour. My second reaction was amazement that Leonard is willing to have it released now, assuming that it had the imprimatur of Leonard and his management , since it was shown at Krakow; apparently not so. It is of course fascinating for us fans, but in a voyeuristic way ; Leonard was accurate as usual when he described it as "Too confrontational" and showing him as "Exhausted, wasted." Its tone is largely negative; it makes the most of what went wrong, e.g. opening with the "riots" in Tel Aviv, but there could have been more emphasis on what went well - eg the lovely clip of Leonard serving them sandwiches as they sang together backstage. It sounds great and Leonard live is always great, because of his rapport with his audience, but who would want his younger, strung-out , drug taking self exposed to public scrutiny when all is going so well with the current tour ?

Re: Tony Palmer presents "Bird on a wire"

Posted: Sun Sep 05, 2010 7:41 pm
by mwaldman
TipperaryAnn wrote:My second reaction was amazement that Leonard is willing to have it released now, assuming that it had the imprimatur of Leonard and his management , since it was shown at Krakow; apparently not so.
I don't think that the issue is about whether Leonard and his management want "Bird on a Wire" released. As "Leonard's management" pointed out in the statement in Marie's post ....
Robert Kory has been trying to work with SONY so this product can also be released....
In the 1:00am late show of his concert at the Olympia in Paris on October 19/20, 1974, Leonard added one word to a line in Chelsea Hotel #2:

we were running for the f*ckin' money and the flesh

To paraphrase TipperaryAnn, Leonard is accurate as usual - this whole dispute is about "the f*ckin' money".

Mike

Re: Tony Palmer presents "Bird on a wire"

Posted: Sun Sep 05, 2010 8:36 pm
by Cheshire gal
I don't think money has been all that important to Leonard. He loves to sing and gets paid for something he loves to do. Obviously there are other people involved and obligations to keep.

He is 'just a man working for our smiles' :lol: :lol:

Re: Tony Palmer presents "Bird on a wire"

Posted: Sun Sep 05, 2010 11:38 pm
by Puddingdale
Pearlvoice wrote:I think that it's just impossible for us to judge what is going on there behind the scenes.
Well said as usual. Let's just wait and see. In any case I am glad my copy is on its way :lol:

Re: Tony Palmer presents "Bird on a wire"

Posted: Mon Sep 06, 2010 4:15 am
by lightning
I think Tony Palmer should work on a new film called "Screwed," an exposé of how artists lose their rights, royalties and fortunes to parasites and crooks in the business world. He could start with the scene from Bird on a Wire where Leonard is conned out of the rights to Suzanne, then proceed to the Kelley Lynch affair, then to the current Bird on the Wire fiasco created for him by Sony. Surely there must be other fine examples in the business . This topic has never really been examined and put before the public as far as I know.

Re: Tony Palmer presents "Bird on a wire"

Posted: Mon Sep 06, 2010 6:47 am
by IMM
lightning wrote:I think Tony Palmer should work on a new film called "Screwed," an exposé of how artists lose their rights, royalties and fortunes to parasites and crooks in the business world.
Whatever the legalities of it are -- I find myself wondering who it is that Sony is paying thousands, to recover a possible million, and in the process destroy multimillions worth of Sony reputation, among possibly fans, and certainly other artists by doing it? :mrgreen:
Taking it public by yanking the Amazon thing is outright foolish. I wonder if the Picasso estate now has something to say?
Apparently - business is busyness ?

Re: Tony Palmer presents "Bird on a wire"

Posted: Tue Sep 07, 2010 11:20 am
by John Etherington
G_wd! You stay away for a few days, and find all of this going on. Have Sony really made Amazon stop selling"Bird on a Wire"? It appears to be fully available for purchase. Anyway, if it's withdrawn people will just have to copy it, and send a donation to Tony Palmer. I bought my copy at Fopp yesterday evening, and I'm delighted with it. It captures the original largely as I remember it, but with enough new footage to make it feel totally fresh. This is a superb, historic document and should be seen by anyone with the slightest interest in Leonard. There are only a few omissions that stand out (wording here from memory only)...The line where the guy says words to the effect of "Can you say something about creativity?". The new movie starts this bit with "...creativity - no I have nothing to say" which doesn't make it so amusing. Also, I'm sure the original included Leonard singing "I'm the man who wrote Suzanne..." which I personally thought was integral to the Jerusalem section. Another "quote" which I believe has been dropped from the movie was when Leonard is asked why he thinks people come to see him. He says words to the gist of "If I man stands in the street holding a sign with a message...any message...then a large crowd will soon gather round him. That's what I'm doing - holding up a sign...only it's a blank one, and people can project whatever they want onto it".

I thought this might be another DVD that I watch once and then file away, but instead it's one that I will want to watch several times and get a pleasure in buying for others. Of course those who are watching the 70s LC concert experience for the first time, may not fully understand what serious events his London concerts were (containing only a little ironic humour). The model for "Bird on a Wire" seems to be Dylan's "Don't Look Back", but there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. It was good to see the clips with Leonard performing in shades, which I remember from one of the early 70s concerts at the Royal Albet Hall. I read somewhere recently that "Bird on a Wire" disappeared after the one showing at The Rainbow Theatre, but I remember seeing it at least half a dozen times in the 70s After the Rainbow, it was shown several times at a cinema club in Wardour Street (just along from where the Marquee Club used to be). I'm also pretty certain it was shown once or twice at London's ICA .

All good things, John E

Re: Tony Palmer presents "Bird on a wire"

Posted: Tue Sep 07, 2010 5:37 pm
by sirius
"Bird On A Wire by Tony Palmer should be compulsory viewing for anyone wishing to make a documentary about a concert tour. Its combination of impeccably filmed concert footage and fly on the wall off stage reporting makes it probably the best movie of its type that I've ever seen. It succeeds in presenting an intimate portrait of one pop music's more enigmatic and charismatic figures. This is Leonard Cohen as you may never have seen him before and definitely won't ever again. According to Amazon's website, this DVD can't be purchased or played on demand due to licensing agreements (in spite of the fact that they have a page for it), but interested readers can purchase a copy from DVDPlanet: http://www.dvdplanet.com/details.cfm/in ... -on-a-wire ."



DVD Review: Leonard Cohen - Bird on a Wire

Author: Richard Marcus — Published: Sep 06, 2010

Read more: http://blogcritics.org/video/article/dv ... z0yr2J29ei

Image

In 1972 Canadian poet and musician Leonard Cohen was at the height of his popularity both in his native country and abroad. The antithesis of the rock and roll gods who normally dominate popular music and fill venues wherever they play, Cohen captivated audiences and listeners with the unabashed sexuality and intellect of his work. Even today, well into his 70s, he remains a charismatic figure and retains the ability to enthral audiences the world over. Somehow, even those who might not have sufficient knowledge of the English language to grasp the nuances of his words are held as if in thrall when he climbs on stage. A true troubadour of the heart and soul, nothing seems to impede his ability to communicate with an audience.

However, what we have witnessed over the last couple of years, whether in person or on DVD, are a master in his declining years. Though even now there are few performers able to match his power to connect with an audience, what must it have been like to see him when he was at the peak of his prowess? While the release last year of footage taken from his performance at the Isle of Wight in 1970 gave us some idea as to his abilities, the conditions in which the concert took place — due to rioting by the audience and other crazy circumstances he ended up not taking the stage until around two in the morning — did not make it ideal for viewing him at his best. While it was amazing to see him calm down close to half a million people who had gone as far as setting fire to the stage after nearly five days of bedlam, it wasn't what anyone would call a typical Cohen concert, if there could be such a thing, from the period.

Two years after that performance Cohen embarked on a 20-city tour that would take him from Dublin, Ireland to Jerusalem accompanied by a film crew under the direction of British documentarian, film, theatre and opera director, author and critic, Tony Palmer. Probably best known for his astounding 17-part television history of pop music, All You Need Is Love, by 1972 Palmer had already directed 23 movies including concert films of Cream (Cream Farewell Concert 1968), Frank Zappa's 200 Motels, and the documentary Ginger Baker In Africa. For some reason though, Cohen wasn't happy with Palmer's edit of the footage and requested it be re-edited by a person of his choice. Unfortunately the result was so botched that the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), whic had commissioned the film, refused delivery and it was never broadcast.

Fast forward to 2009 when Palmer was informed that the original footage, something like 200 cans of film, had been found in a warehouse. While some of the footage was in dubious condition, the sound was in perfect shape. So Palmer set to the painstaking task of sorting and restoring miles of film with the result that almost 40 years after it was originally shot, Bird On A Wire has been released on DVD, distributed by MVD Entertainment. While the story behind the movie is almost enough to make it worth seeing in itself, you'll soon discover this is no mere curiosity piece. Rather it is a masterful piece of work by a gifted and experienced documentary filmmaker.

The film follows Cohen and his band off and on stage as they wend their way east across Europe from Great Britain until their final two concerts in Israel, in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Palmer has chosen to open the film with footage of the second to last concert in Tel Aviv, where once again we find Cohen in the position of having to try and pour oil onto troubled waters. This time it's not the audience who riot, but the security personnel who go over the top. At one point during the concert Cohen invited audience members at the back to come and sit down in what he saw as an open space in front of the stage so they could hear and see better. Perhaps he should have checked with the bouncers beforehand, for when people started to come down to the front of the stage and sit, they were forcibly removed. In spite of Cohen's pleas for restraint, things quickly descended into chaos and the concert couldn't go on.

What we don't know at the time, and which gradually becomes clear over the course of the film, is at some point early on in the tour something had gone wrong with the sound equipment they were using. As a result the band had to make do without the use of on-stage monitors — meaning they were virtually unable to hear themselves — and the whole system eventually feeding back if they exceeded a certain volume. On one occasion we saw Cohen invite those in the furthest reaches of an auditorium who were having difficulty hearing to come up and sit on stage with the band so they could hear. It's a testament to the respect audiences held Cohen in that when he asked that only those who were truly having difficulties come up on stage, they listened to him. Instead of the mad rush you might have expected upon the issuing of this invitation, only those who weren't able to hear came forward while everybody else stayed in their seats

While that is a rather extreme example, it typifies how well the film captured the rapport Cohen had with his audience. Some of the lighter moments included him chiding the audience for starting to clap for a song after he'd only played a few chords, reminding them that all his songs sound the same because he only knows a couple of chords, so how could they possibly know what song he's about to sing? What's truly remarkable about those moments are how warmly the audience responded and the affectionate laughter that met these and other self-deprecating comments he would make.

Aside from the fact that some of the footage was in black and white and it was obviously shot on film, such was Palmer's skill as a director there were times while watching that it's easy to forget the footage is nearly 40 years old. It was far harder to maneuver cameras and crew in those days, yet somehow he and his people managed to not only capture remarkably intimate concert footage, they were obviously so unobtrusive Cohen and those around him acted as if they were unaware they were being filmed. (There is one memorable moment, however, where Cohen is talking to a very pretty women visiting backstage and he turns to face the camera and comment on how hard it is to chat someone while being filmed.) As a result the footage taken offstage captures life on tour — backstage before and after a show, in transit, interviews with the press, and the interaction between the band members — far better than I've ever seen it depicted.

While all of this is interesting, what really makes Bird On A Wire a treasure is what we see of Cohen himself. The expression "wearing your heart on your sleeve" might have been coined for him at this stage in his life as he can't hide how he's feeling from anybody, including his audience at times. However, at the same time he exudes a sense of power that allows him to stand up in front of his audience and almost reprimand them like a parent would a misguided child and they actually listen to him.

Like all artists he's plagued by the desire for his work to be perfect, and if it can't be it shouldn't be seen. At one point he stops his show in Jerusalem because he's not happy with the quality of his performance and takes the band offstage, uncertain as to whether or not he'll continue with the show. It's not about pride, or if it is, it's the right kind, because he refuses to cheat the audience by giving them anything less than what he considers his best. He eventually does go back on, and the audience doesn't want him to leave. Eventually he has to come back onstage after multiple encores to tell the audience that he and all his band are back stage crying right now and couldn't possibly do another song.

While there are none of the special features we've all come to expect from modern DVD packages included on the disc, there are some lovely surprises in the packaging. Aside from a nice sized booklet with each page containing collages of pictures, quotes, and clips from newspaper articles about Cohen, a replica of the poster for the film and what looks to be a postcard sized replica of promotional artwork of Cohen from the 1970s are also included. Naturally the image quality and the sound reproduction are limited by the condition the film was found in and the technology used to shoot it in the first place. However, all things considered, and this is a sign of a remarkable restoration job, they are probably better quality than anybody had any right to hope.

Bird On A Wire by Tony Palmer should be compulsory viewing for anyone wishing to make a documentary about a concert tour. Its combination of impeccably filmed concert footage and fly on the wall off stage reporting makes it probably the best movie of its type that I've ever seen. It succeeds in presenting an intimate portrait of one pop music's more enigmatic and charismatic figures. This is Leonard Cohen as you may never have seen him before and definitely won't ever again.

According to Amazon's website, this DVD can't be purchased or played on demand due to licensing agreements (in spite of the fact that they have a page for it), but interested readers can purchase a copy from DVDPlanet.


Richard Marcus is the author of the recently published What Will Happen In Eragon IV? and has had his work published in print and online all over the world. The not so long-haired Canadian iconoclast writes reviews and opines on the world as he sees it at Leap In The Dark, and is the editor of the online South East Asian arts and culture site Epic India Magazine.

Richard Marcus's author page — http://blogcritics.org/writers/richard-marcus/
Richard Marcus's Blog: http://blogs.epicindia.com/leapinthedark/

Re: Tony Palmer presents "Bird on a wire"

Posted: Tue Sep 07, 2010 6:30 pm
by FOXWOOD
Amazon UK
Number 1 Bestseller in Concerts Any Category > DVD > Music > Concerts

It looks like it is still on sale to me at present.

Re: Tony Palmer presents "Bird on a wire"

Posted: Tue Sep 07, 2010 7:03 pm
by lightning
Yes the restoration of the original Bird on Wire is a brilliantly made film.
Now that the Viet Nam war is over, Leonard doesn't have to worry about it being too confrontational by showing footage of Viet Nam war atrocities during the Story of Isaac, one of the more coded anti-war songs of the era .
Since Leonard was paying for the storage of the film,it wasn't lost. He knew where it was but was maybe afraid to show it. We are all glad he is past that fear.

Re: Tony Palmer presents "Bird on a wire"

Posted: Wed Sep 08, 2010 7:07 pm
by astranger
Got my copy this morning! The package and inner jacket are amazing! About to finally experience this film.

Re: Tony Palmer presents "Bird on a wire"

Posted: Wed Sep 08, 2010 10:28 pm
by Davido
Highest new entry in DVD chart!

1 1 1,480 -15.5 THIS IS IT MICHAEL JACKSON SONY PICTURES HE
4 2 856 -8.1 MOONWALKER MICHAEL JACKSON WARNER HOME VIDEO
3 3 726 -45.1 THE CIRCUS - LIVE TAKE THAT POLYDOR
2 4 558 -71.8 WHEN YOU'RE STRANGE DOORS INDIVISION
5 5 316 11 THE 3D CONCERT EXPERIENCE JONAS BROTHERS WALT DISNEY
NEW 6 271 0 BIRD ON A WIRE - LIVE LEONARD COHEN MACHAT COMPANY
6 7 192 -16.1 LIVE FROM THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL KILLERS VERTIGO
13 8 140 9.7 DREAM CAST - LES MISERABLES IN CONCERT CAST RECORDING VCI
15 9 134 17.7 PUNK ATTITUDE VARIOUS ARTISTS FREMANTLE HOME ENT
9 10 125 -27.2 360 DEGREES AT THE ROSE BOWL U2 MERCURY
http://www.thegenepool.co.uk/items/555.htm

Re: Tony Palmer presents "Bird on a wire"

Posted: Wed Sep 08, 2010 11:49 pm
by astranger
All I can say about this beautiful and intimate film is that it blew my expectations out of the water. From the calm and stark opening lines of "Any System" to the final verse of "Bird on the Wire", I've never felt like such a fly on the wall. Leonard completely blew me away, not that this is any surprise, but he had me laughing out loud multiple times as well as clinging to every word he said while speaking to journalists or those backstage. The visuals during "Story of Isaac" were especially haunting and unexpected, but viscerally appropriate; one wants to look away from that but it is the turning of one's eye away from those actions that lets those acts of hate continue. I loved his banter with the audience and loved watching him so free and consumed and concerned with the moment at hand. Tony Palmer beautifully stitched everything together and one can really feel the passion and effort that went into this project. Every shot and frame was warm and was held in solidarity with the warmth of the music and words. I especially loved the childhood footage; I had only seen what was presented in the "Ladies and Gentlemen..." documentary. The collage of Marianne's photo's was very bittersweet and it really brought one into Leonard's heart in a deeply personal, yet distant way; his tears understood. After watching this I just felt different and I still do; Tony Palmer has given us a great gift in this and as I stated before it is so much more than what I was expecting and felt so deeply grateful for still having Leonard in my life, and I'm pretty sure I speak for all of us in sharing that sentiment.