DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

Springsteen & I – Blu-ray (2013)

Documentary on rock icon provides a unique fan perspective.

Published on November 20, 2013

Springsteen & I – Blu-ray (2013)

Springsteen & I – Blu-ray (2013)

Performers: Bruce Springsteen (and The E Street Band); special concert appearance by Paul McCartney and interviews with fans around the world.
Studio: Eagle Rock Entertainment EV8334829 [10/29/2013]
Director: Baillie Walsh
Video: 1.78:1 & 1.33:1 for 16×9 1080p HD color
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; PCM 2.0
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch
Extras: Bruce SpringsteenHard Rock Calling 2012 – Thunder Road; Because The Night; Shackled And Drawn; We Are Alive; When I Saw Her Standing There/Twist And Shout (with Paul McCartney); Fan Submissions (Rogerio’s Film; Dreams; Murkami’s Film; Minami’s Film; Meet The Fans)
Length: 142 minutes total 
Rating: **** 

Many rock stars maintain a strong bond with its fan base. Bur the fans of Bruce Springsteen have a special identification with him. Forty years after his arrival on the scene as a working class hero (even though Born To Run talked about life in New Jersey as a death trap), the masses celebrate this message as deeply as they ever did. Presidents scramble to gain his support, often quoting his lyrics in the hopes of connecting with his audience. Now generations of Springsteen fans exist, each claiming allegiance to the socio-political narratives. More importantly, this music has been woven into the fabric of their lives.

Eagle Rock Entertainment has released a documentary on this phenomenon, Springsteen & I. After a theatrical release and Showtime run, the movie can be seen on Blu-ray (also DVD and digital formats). The focus of the film is the fan base and their sincere, emotional relation to Bruce (for anyone who has attended a Springsteen concert he is simply “Brooooooce!!!). Combining rare concert footage and submitted “testimonials”, the importance of the singer and his effect on them is chronicled. There are no revelatory insights into the man, but a heart-warming account from the faithful. Among the highlights is a soccer mom who insists on “Springsteen-only” playlists in her SUV, an Elvis impersonator who joins Bruce onstage, and an impromptu street jam with a guitar-playing fan during a European leg of a world tour. Unlike most rock legends, Springsteen avoids aloofness and inaccessibility. Even his crew gets into the act, giving a fan with nosebleed tickets at Madison Square Garden front row seats.

There is archival concert footage, including previously unseen performances of “Dancing In The Dark”,. “Born To Run”, “Born In The U.S.A.” and I’m On Fire”. The early folk performances remind everyone of the failed attempt to market Springsteen as the “next Dylan”.  The real “stars” (neither Bruce nor the E Street Band were interviewed) are the adoring fans. With stories submitted on cell phones and other low-end devices, devotees express their loyalty to “The Boss” without coming off as overwrought (in most cases, anyway). As one of the few counterpoints, a husband of an obsessed fan laments about the length of the marathon concerts. The documentary is only seventy-seven minutes, but there is an equal amount of bonus footage. Highlights include two Beatles songs from the 2012 Hyde Park concert with Paul McCartney and a sizzling version of “Because The Night”.

The sound quality is mixed, due to the significant amount of interviews and cell phone transmissions. The musical segments fare much better in 5.1. Contemporary video footage is more crisp and defined than vintage footage. But this is a film about a psychic, visceral dynamic between a performer and his admirers. On that level, Springsteen & I works!

—Robbie Gerson




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