This listing is for The Beach Boys - Endless Harmony VHS Video Documentary.
Format: Color, NTSC
Rated: NR - Not Rated
Number of tapes: 1
VHS Release Date: March 14, 2000
Run Time: 105 minutes
This smartly produced, intelligently written documentary strikes a satisfying balance between thoughtful analysis, personal history, and sheer musical pleasure for a portrait of the seminal California pop band that will prove equally compelling to both knowledgeable fans and casual listeners. In the audiovisual equivalent of a loaves-and-fishes miracle, The Beach Boys: Endless Harmony weaves 45 of the group's songs through extended interview segments with all the original members, key musicians involved in their career-defining recordings, and astute peers and industry observers. Evocative period footage, including archival film and early, no-budget promotional videos, only add to the impact, but the real achievement is the clarity and candor of this authorized project, which might easily have lapsed into callow myth-making and media spin control given the involvement of the surviving Beach Boys and their record label, Capitol, which is releasing both the documentary and a companion hits compilation.
Instead, these archetypal Southern Californians, who transmuted their experiences growing up in suburban Hawthorne into a potent teen iconography orbiting surfing, cars, and girls, tackle the underlying personal and cultural upheavals beneath their discography. The central, dysfunctional drama of the Wilson family--brothers Brian, Dennis, and Carl, the group's nucleus, and their manager-father, Murry--is addressed early on, and underlined with harrowing excerpts from session tapes capturing the hard-driving, abusive style of Wilson père. Composer and acknowledged group leader Brian Wilson, who long ago became a poster boy for "troubled genius," pop division, is likewise depicted without evasion or apology, as are the internal tensions between Wilson and other members including Wilson cousin Mike Love; it's a testament to the filmmakers' acuity and skill that Love depicts himself as a force of "positivity... and 'upbeatness'" that counterbalanced Brian's darker, more introverted style, then dismisses the elliptical poetry of Wilson's most artistically ambitious collaborations with Van Dyke Parks as lyrically opaque.
Originally aired on VH-1, Endless Harmony works as an apotheosis of the cable channel's Behind the Music concept, elevating the concept substantially and covering an enormous terrain in 105 minutes. For the Beach Boys fan, this will be an essential companion to their enduring music.
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