What we need (Soul Power) / What we want (Soul Power)
Call me a sucker for a good music documentary. And I’ve been looking forward to today’s release of the well-regarded “Soul Power” for a while now.
The movie chronicles the Zaire ’74 concert, set to accompany the famed boxing match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire (immortalized as “The Rumble in the Jungle”). The story behind the October 30, 1974 fight, delayed 6 weeks from its originally scheduled date due to an injury to Foreman, was brought to the big screen in the 1996 documentary “When We Were Kings”.
Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, an editor on “Kings”, was troubled by the lack of attention afforded the concert, which took place over 3 nights in September on dates originally scheduled to coincide with the buildup to the main event. While sparse footage was utilized in “Kings”, Levy-Hinte made it his mission to utilize the bulk of the concert footage (along with off-stage events based around Zaire ’74) to direct a fresh documentary of its own.
The great news is that it looks like he has a winner. Opening in Los Angeles & New York today, the movie garners excellent reviews from both Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times as well as A.O. Scott of The New York Times.
There are a boatload of stars (including Bill Withers, B.B. King, and James Brown, whose epic “Soul Power” provides the doc with its title) with performances that jump off the screen 35 years after their journey to Africa. Don’t trust me? Just check out the trailer.
This movie won’t play broadly and it won’t play long, but find it at a movie theatre near you. The treatment afforded this classic footage deserves to be seen on the big screen.
And if you yawn at the legacy of these performers, then all the more reason to spend the $10 and discover what “Soul Power” is all about.