Director: Spike Lee | Scenario: David Byrne | Discard: David Byrne, Chris Giarmo, Tendayi Kuumba, Angie Swan, ea | Year: 2020
As babies, humans have millions more brain connections than an adult, says David Byrne, the charismatic leader of the Talking Heads. Why are we losing these connections? Byrne doesn’t come up with straightforward answers, but with his music, fantastic band, wonderful poetic lyrics about everyday life, and spectacular show, he offers a truly unique way to rediscover a fraction of that childish connection to the world.
This is not just any concert film, but an exceptional work of art in which philosophical questions, sociological issues, experimental camera work and unparalleled theater merge into a veritable ecstasy of color, dance, pleasure. , music and reflection. Certainly, at a time when concerts are sorely lacking, this work of art is a huge gift to humanity.
All of the American Utopia consists of bead curtains only three meters high and a stage. However, there is so much play with light, shadow effects and choreography that no moment tends to be boring. There is really nothing but movement in the group of incredibly talented people. Not only do they play multiple instruments, but they sing and dance all the time as well. Byrne once again emphasizes during the performance that whatever you hear is actually being played by the band. It’s amazing how full and complete the sound they create on this stage is.
Spike Lee’s cameras are an important part of the special dance that takes place on stage. Spike Lee captures the tight choreography from all angles. There are times when the camera moves along the stage, shots from above or from the back of the stage and even through the bead curtains, Spike still manages to capture the group. Thanks to this camera work, you become more and more an actor of the dance and more and more carried away in an ecstasy.
A title like American Utopia of course, this also means that the political situation in the United States must be considered. David Byrne encourages his audience to vote, especially locally, as only 20% of people do. The group kneels with Colin Kaepernick protruding in the background. The most political statement, however, comes during the beautiful performance of Janelle Monáe’s song Hell You Talmbout, which features the names of several African Americans who were killed by police brutality. Spike Lee walks away from the gig in the editing process to still show a life-size photo of the deceased. Of course, such a scene is Spike Lee’s signature and it creates chilling beauty in combination with the necessary thoughtfulness.
Meet American Utopia Byrne does not present a utopia. The gray suits the group is wearing could be from a dystopian sci-fi movie. Still, Byrne remains optimistic and believes America is still capable of great things, although the choice of the song Road to Nowhere as the closure may also contradict this statement. Despite all the social criticism it contains, the trance caused by the show is a heavenly utopian pleasure. It’s a shame that there are currently no concerts and that we cannot (yet) see this film in the cinema, but this concert registration still manages to very skillfully evoke a connection to a shared humanity. American Utopia is a church service, festival, museum visit, pub crawl, theatrical performance and more in one. American Utopia is humanity and art at its best.
Read us too interview met David Byrne.