The Last Waltz is an outstanding rock documentary of the last concert by The Band on Thanksgiving 1976 at Winterland in San Francisco.
By itself The Band performs 12 numbers. The group backs up guest artists on another dozen. They include Ronnie Hawkins, Dr. John, Neil Young, the Staples, Neil Diamond, Joni Mitchell, Paul Butterfield, Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton, Emmylou Harris, Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr and Ron Wood.
Director Martin Scorsese has succeeded on a number of fronts. First, he recognized that this concert deserved cinematic preservation. The Band was an important and intelligent force in rock music on its own and as a backup group for Bob Dylan and Ronnie Hawkins.
This film is a chronicle of one important group very much a part of the music of the late 1960s and 1970s and it’s also a commentary on those times. It’s 90% concert film and 10% history. Unlike so many of their colleagues, the members of The Band are competent musicians and spokesmen.