In my lifetime we have lost many artists far too early in their careers. Before I was born, you had names like Dean, Monroe, and Hendrix. Names that to this day are still talked about. In the last twenty years two musical artist who still garner interest for as much for what they had done, as well as what they could have done is Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse. I’ve always wondered about the legacy that is left behind when someone like this passes too soon. Is that legacy deserved? Or is it something we manufacture because we believe they would have always been great, and not just the time they were around.
History has always shown us that greatness is very hard to maintain. If you think of all those once in a decade artist, you will see that even they are not as great as they once were, and often can hang on too long. This year we have been graced with two documentaries that lets us peak into the minds of both Cobain and Winehouse. Cobain’s “Montage of Heck” gave us a look into the music star’s life like we had never seen, but never made you question what could have been. Now comes the brilliant “Amy”, as it looks into the life of Amy Winehouse.
In 2006 Winehouse took the music world by storm with her hit “Rehab” off of her “Back to Black” album, in which she won a ton of awards for. With her soulful voice and classic sound, her music was a breath of fresh air in a world of popular music that was sorely needed. As fast as Winehouse rose to the top, her descent into a life of drugs and alcohol seemed just as sudden, as eventually alcohol would lead to her losing her life in 2012.
“Amy” is a fascinating watch, with its perfect balance of music and imagery that shows Winehouse’s life. It is easy to remember her for her fall, but with “Amy” you will remember the rise a lot more. With a voice that doesn’t fit the source, Winehouse was often called an “old soul” and while watching “Amy” it is easy to see why. Filmmaker Asif Kapadia who made the impressive documentary about racecar driver Senna in 2010, tops that piece of work, with what might be one of the best documentaries about a musician I have ever seen. Kapadia was granted complete access to Winehouse’s life by her family and friends, so the film has lots of video and stories from everyone that was important in her life. Since its release, Winehouse’s father has come out against the film, claiming it is put together in a way that focuses on her downward spiral more than anything else. I disagree with that opinion, and I believe you take away from the film what a talent and kind of person Winehouse was before everything changed for her. I really can’t say enough about the amazing qualities of “Amy”, it is a film that will make all of Winehouse’s fans happy, but if you were not a fan, this film is sure to make you one.