Release Date: 06 September 2010
Label: Carpe Diem
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Originally made in 1972 and directed by celebrated British filmmaker Tony Palmer, Bird On A Wire follows Leonard Cohen on his 1972 European tour and contains 17 classic performances, four poems and tour footage. After massive re-editing, although not by Palmer, it was released in 1974, had a very limited run and then “disappeared’. Like many films from the era it was thought that the original version had been lost, but in 2009, 294 rolls of film were discovered containing much of the original rushes and soundtrack of the 1972 film. Palmer was able to restore much of this footage and it is now available on DVD for the first time. “In 2009, 294 cans of film were unearthed in a warehouse in Hollywood thanks to Steve Machat, son of the film’s original producer, mostly in rusted up cans that sometimes had to be hammered open. These cans were then shipped to me by, of all people, Frank Zappa’s manager. I believed at first that nothing could be salvaged. The cans did not contain the negative (still lost); some of the prints were in black & white; and much of it had been cut to pieces and/or scratched beyond use. But when I finally opened one box and found most of the original sound dubbing tracks, I knew we had a hope of putting the jigsaw back together,” said Palmer. ”So now, taking full advantage of the latest digital technology, this is what we have done, piece by almost 3,000 tiny pieces, slowly and painstakingly. It has taken months and months, and probably has cost more than the original filming, and although it’s by no means perfect, it’s very close now to the original. “Now, looking back after 38 years, my admiration for Cohen as a poet, a singer and as a man, remains undiminished,” Palmer states. “The original film was made with love, and I hope that quality once again shines through the restored film.”
Tony Palmer is one of the leading directors of music documentaries and historical drama films in the world. His vast filmography of over 100 films ranges from early works with The Beatles, Cream, Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa (200 Motels), to the famous portraits with and about Walton, Britten, Stravinsky, Maria Callas, John Osborne, Margot Fonteyn and Menuhin. His acclaimed 1977 realist documentary on the vibrant Northern Soul music club The Wigan Casino was recently released on DVD and received staggering reviews throughout the UK including coverage in The Express, The Guardian, The Times, Mojo and Uncut. He has collected over 40 international prizes for his work.
Bird On A Wire includes unique live performances of the following Leonard Cohen songs: ‘Avalanche’, ‘Suzanne’,’ Tonight Will Be Fine’, ‘Passing Through’, ‘Sisters of Mercy’, ‘Who By Fire?’, ‘Story of Isaac’, ‘One Of Us Can't Be Wrong’, ‘The Partisan’, ‘Chelsea Hotel’, ‘Nancy’, ‘Famous Blue Raincoat’, ‘Bird On A Wire’, and more...