Amazing Grace is a highly acclaimed Aretha Franklin documentary that’s going to be screening at the Melbourne International Film Festival this year. We’re looking forward to it. Via Variety:
“Amazing Grace” is a filmed record of the two nights, in January 1972, during which Franklin recorded the gospel performances that became the celebrated live double album “Amazing Grace.” It remains not only the best-selling gospel record of all time, but the best-selling album of Franklin’s 50-year career. She was then at the height of her stardom, with 20 albums and 11 number-one singles (all the iconic hits: “Respect,” “Chain of Fools,” “Think,” etc.) under her belt, and she wanted to do a record that honored the formative gospel roots of her youth.
Warner Bros. hired director Sydney Pollack to film the sessions (this was the early-’70s heyday of the grainy verité concert film), and in “Amazing Grace” we see Pollack wandering around the church, directing the action and at one point holding the camera. But the project wound up getting shelved. There was a severe technical glitch (much of the sound was out of sync with the images), and later, when attempts were made to solve that issue, Franklin herself repeatedly blocked attempts to release the movie. It’s not clear why, but now that it’s been lovingly restored and assembled (the sound is clear as a bell, and in perfect sync), “Amazing Grace” can stand as an essential filmed record of what is undoubtedly one of the greatest gospel performances you’ll ever see.