Cinema Epoch // 2009 // 53 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Steve Power (Retired) // July 7th, 2012
Follow the exciting story of Led Zeppelin, from their formation out of The Yardbirds in 1968, to their demise following the death of drummer John Bonham in 1980.
Led Zeppelin, perhaps more than any other band before or since, could be considered responsible for shaping the music scene of every decade since their arrival in the '70s. Their music is instantly recognizable, and their sound can be heard in everything from hard rock and metal to pop and club music. They are also one of the most storied bands in history. Zeppelin's rise and fall was surrounded in myth, tumult, and tragedy, all the stuff that makes for great dramatic viewing. Led Zeppelin: Dazed and Confused attempts to squeeze all of this into barely an hour of archival footage and scant narration. It fails miserably.
About half of the running time is spent spinning the boring origin story of the band, a bunch of session musicians forming a group in the remnants of The Yardbirds. There's much talk of their defining sound, but never any detailed discussion, and much yammering about how much of a bastard manager Peter Grant was. Some of the material is good, but significant events like Robert Plant's car wreck and the death of his son, and even John Bonham's death are but footnotes. What's worse, this disc bears the "Unofficial Biography" moniker, which, one would think, could really open the floodgates, and provide a detailed look at the band's history, warts and all. Instead we get a chronological timeline of album releases and a few brief bits on how each was received. Even then, they seem to cut off Zep's album history with "Physical Grafitti," with not a thing said about the later albums. Things do end on a high note with some talk about Zeppelin's triumphant one-off reunion show from December of 2007.
Presentation is also a bit of an issue; the unauthorized nature of the proceedings means that no original music was used, and shoddy "almost sound alike" tunes are used throughout the feature. What's worse, is the handful of "Faux-Zeppelin" tunes that were recorded are repeated frequently. I hope you like the opening bars of "How Many more Times," because you'll be hearing it a LOT.
Cinema Epoch's DVD is a solid effort. The picture, framed at 1.78:1 looks good, and archival interviews and still photos all look pretty sharp and consistent. Some of the material is pretty old stuff, but has been kept in pretty remarkable shape. The audio is a mixed bag, a pretty low bitrate makes for some compression noise and clipping in the low rent Zeppelin covers that underscore the whole affair, but the talking heads and archived audio interviews come through loud and clear. It's not a world class project, but the effort is there. The lone extra is a photo gallery featuring a ton of stills featured in the documentary, complete with more "Faux Zep" underscoring and cheesy crowd cheering.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Cinema Epoch
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 53 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Photo Gallery
* Led Zeppelin Online