The Last Waltz is one of the most well realized and musically satisfying rock movies ever made. It brings to the screen the Band's last live concert on Thanksgiving Day, 1976 at Winterland in San Francisco. The 24-track recording system turns every musical selection into a total aural treat. And Michael Chapman, the director of photography assisted by six other skilled cameramen, captures the theatrical drama of the event. The musical presentations are counter pointed by interviews with members of the Band as they talk about their sixteen years on the road. Producer Robbie Robertson and director Martin Scorsese have collaborated in the truest sense of the word. The result is an impressive blend of rock and cinema.
The Last Waltz presents an encyclopedia of the popular music of the 1960's. Through their guest soloists, the Band touches bases with all of the major and some of the minor pop styles of the decade: folk music (Joni Mitchell, Neil Young), folk rock (Bob Dylan), the blues (Muddy Waters, Paul Butterfield, Eric Clapton), country and western (Emmylou Harris), gospel (The Staple Singers), rock 'n' roll (Ronnie Hawkins, Van Morrison), the New Orleans sound (Dr. John), and Tin Pan Alley (Neil Diamon). Ringo Starr is on hand to represent the Beatles and Ron Wood for the Rolling Stones. The Band's energized rock is given superb showcasing in "Shape I'm In," "The Weight," and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." The highpoint of this celebratory event is the singing of "I Shall Be Release" when members of the Band are joined on stage by all their friends. It is a paean to the glad tidings of popular music!