Live Forever review

:. Director: John Dower
:. Genre: Documentary
:. Running Time: 1:22
:. Year: 2003
:. Country: UK


With the resurgence of 80's and 90's music boosted by the success of "re-enacting" acts issued from the electro clash, garage and goth scenes, the influence of the British scene is stronger than ever, and is consequently being paid homage to by a few thirtysomething filmmakers eager to resurrect the rush of these prolific years. Unofficially filling the gap between 24 Hour Party People's exciting Madchester retrospective and today's musical vacuum, Live Forever offers a documentary look at Britpop in the 90's focusing on the influence of major emblematic bands such as Oasis (hence the title), Blur and Pulp.

Starting with Madchester's last sparkle, a historical concert of the Stone Roses, and following the mutation of a British scene marked by unexpected events such as the arrival of grunge and the death of Lady Di, the documentary intertwines the narration and music footage with interviews of major actors such as Noel and Liam Gallagher (Oasis), Damon Albarn (Blurb), Jarvis Cocker (Pulp) and Damien Hirst (Massive Attack).

This is obviously not an exhaustive historical feature as director John Dover examines more particularly this infamous battle of the bands that pitted Oasis against Blur in the charts and skips some influential bands that either appeared or disappeared in the 90's (Radiohead, The Jesus & Mary Chain, etc.) Just like the underrated 24 Hour Party People, Live Forever is a niche film, only catering to those of us whose musical heritage is closer to London than Long Beach, California.

While this is not a polished and academically serious piece such as Martin Scorcese's Blues series, Live Forever can be informative—we learn about the consequences of the failure of the Stone Roses, the release of Nirvana's Nevermind, the election of Tony Blair as well as the deaths of Kurt Cobain's and Lady Di. The social and political contexts are omnipresent, Dover using this battle of the bands to develop underlying themes such as the opposition between the working and middle classes and the labor and conservative parties; it becomes clear that the Oasis/Blur feud was a reflection of a country divided socially and politically rather than a simple affair of album sales. But it is above all a lot of fun at the anecdotal and nostalgic levels. One of the highlights is obviously the interviews of the Gallagher brothers whose cockiness and arrogance is unparalleled while Albarn seems to be more cautious and appeasing.

Dover used an Oasis cover band to introduce and close Live Forever, thus emphasizing that neither this film nor these self-important band statements should be taken too seriously. After all, it's all about music.

  Fred Thom

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