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Amazing Grace: Aretha Franklin (U) *SOLD OUT
Sun 16 June @ 8:00 pm£7 – £10
Amazing Grace: Aretha Franklin (U) – 2018, USA, 91 mins
Director: Sidney Pollack, Alan Elliott
A documentary presenting Aretha Franklin with choir at the New Bethel Baptist Church in Watts, Los Angeles in January 1972. One of the great gospel performances newly rediscovered.
In the early 1970s, fresh from a succession of hit songs, Aretha Franklin recorded for two nights at a Baptist church in Los Angeles – a legendary session that would become her biggest selling album, Amazing Grace. Remarkably, director Sydney Pollack (Tootsie, Out of Africa) was there to shoot it, but a series of complications led to the footage being left on the shelf – until now. With the help of modern editing techniques employed by Alan Elliott, this extraordinary performance comes to the big screen for the first time, over 40 years on.
“There’s an oceanic swell of euphoria and joy in this extraordinary film… Franklin is stunningly charismatic in her very reticence and restraint. Unlike the church’s ebullient and charming pastor, James Cleveland, who MCs the event, Franklin never addresses the audience other than in her singing, sometimes from the pulpit, sometimes from the piano keyboard; she is dressed simply, almost sacrificially, in a plain dress. Her one purely dramatic gesture comes at the very end when she turns and sings directly to the choir – an electrifying, enigmatic gesture.
The most heartwrenching moment arrives when Cleveland invites Franklin’s father, the Rev CL Franklin, to address the congregation, which he does, talking fondly of Aretha’s childhood. At another stage, he rushes forward while she is singing and mops her brow, just as he might have done when she was a girl.
Yet, however moved we all are, Franklin herself remains calm between numbers, as if in the studio rather than on the concert stage, yet perhaps sensing, as a true artist, that it is her audience and not she who must cry.” The Guardian
Doors open for fine wines and all manner of drinks at 7pm. Film at 8pm