Opening 17 Aug 2006
Neil Young’s world premiere “Prairie Wind” concert was eloquently captured on genuine film footage with film director Jonathan Demme and director of photography Ellen Kuras at the helm. Demme’s documentary begins with several interviews taken from the back seat of limousines from famous veteran musicians talking about the good ol' days of music and playing with Neil Young. Each individual is eager to get to their destination to join stage with America’s living legendary musicians. The meeting point for these stars is the hallowed Ryman Auditorium (original home of the Grand Ole Opry), Nashville, Tennessee, August 19, 2005.
The mix of old and new songs during the “Prairie Wind” concert expressed Young’s personal journey and how the songs/lyrics were interwoven with his own life singing “Old Man”, “Heart of Gold”, “When God Made Me” as well as, “Prairie Wind”. Demme’s sensitivity and love for music allowed him to capture a musician’s “dream film” about music. Collaborating with Kuras and Young, he filmed a “dream concert” while at the same time capturing what was in Young’s head as a musician and song writer. To combine this complex world of film and music, Demme had to capture its characters, instruments, sights, tones, colors, light, voices and silence. Using eight stationary cameras, one Steadycam and no moving cameras, Demme sets the stage by allowing Young himself to serve as a guide, leading the audience on an intimate, emotional, lyrical journey rather than producing an unambiguous narrative.
Young has entered the fifth decade of his musical career. It is important to him to be able change course during his journey, therefore he strives to cover new ground. Young does so especially with the individual sound of his old Hank Williams guitar. Young’s unmistakable, soothing voice was as clear as a bell, which immediately put me in chill mode – relaxed but ready to receive whatever followed on the program. I often forgot that I was sitting in the movie theater. It was one of the most delightful concentrated 103 minutes I have spent in a very long time. (Karen Pecota)