Springsteen’s Introspective Brilliance Rocks onto the Big Screen in Lieu of a Concert Tour
Rock-n-roll legend Bruce Springsteen has appeared in films before. From dancing with Courtney Cox in his own music video, to chiming in on different rockumentaries, to making a hilarious cameo in “High Fidelity,” the Boss is no stranger to the screen. This is not even to mention the nearly three hundred movie soundtracks that he has appeared on—winning an Oscar for his original song “Streets of Philadelphia” in 1993 and more recently having a film made directly about his music in 2019’s “Blinded By The Light.”
On October 25th, Springsteen invites his audience to enjoy a new kind of filmic experience to compliment his music. Springsteen’s latest album, “Western Stars,” came out in May, and like all of the rocker’s work, it is ruggedly poetic and grippingly suggestive of something that feels fundamentally American. Instead of going on a tour to promote this album, though, Springsteen is releasing a film to accompany it.
A Documentary-Music Video that Expands Upon Bruce Springsteen’s Latest Album
“Western Stars” (the film) is a cinematic endeavor that combines many different kinds of footage and stories, all set to the music from Springsteen’s latest record. It is partially an elongated music video that goes on for the album’s entire twelve tracks. At the same time, it is also a documentary, using found-footage and voice over narration to create a commentary about Springsteen’s life and career. Then again, it is also a concert video, as it incorporates live performances from several Bruce shows.
A conglomeration of mediums and modes, “Western Stars” is a unique project. Given its motley style, the film is very hard to pin as a particular art form. It is just as musical as it is cinematic—a visual album with Springsteen as the glue holding everything together.
A Nostalgic Directorial Collaboration Rooted in Springsteen’s Earliest Years
Springsteen himself directed the movie alongside longtime collaborator Thom Zimny. In addition to Springsteen’s brilliant lyric-writing abilities, the singer also published a memoir in 2016 and curated his own Broadway performance in 2017. Both of these projects were highly esteemed, demonstrating that he knows how to communicate a story or message in more than just a musical medium.
Zimny, on the other hand, is a filmmaker first and foremost. He has been with Bruce since 2001, when he directed the concert video, “Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band: Live In New York City.” Since then they have worked together on numerous documentaries and music videos. “Western Stars” however, is a first for both of them—an unprecedented blend of all the cinematic forms they’ve worked in so far.
“Western Stars” debuted at the Toronto Film Festival earlier this year, and it received positive reviews. It is praised for the way it captures and expands upon everything Springsteen says on the album. Although the musician hails from New Jersey, the film has an appropriately Western energy, with desert-country imagery that compliments the songs’ themes regarding growing up, growing old, and navigating your inner-American frontier through solemn ballads and explosive hard rock.
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