By Annie Reuter
On May 26 Grateful Dead fans will be given a closer look into the legacy of their favorite band with the four-hour documentary Long Strange Trip. Directed by Amir-Bar Lev (My Kid Could Paint That, The Tillman Story) and executive-produced by Martin Scorsese, the film details the band’s rise to fame and the death of frontman Jerry Garcia.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, the surviving band members admit the film was at times difficult to watch. “It’s charming and it’s heartfelt,” said Mickey Hart. “But it’s sad in some ways. It’s not a date movie. I wouldn’t take my wife to see it.”
Hart described the last years of Garcia’s life as “kind of tragic.” He says the film’s footage “shows you how lonely it is when people want to pick you apart and give you no peace just because they love you to death.”
Meanwhile, Bob Weir says that the uplifting quality of the band overrides some of the more somber moments. “A lot of the stories in the film are fairly dark, but there’s a light that shines above all of that. [It’s] counterbalanced by the music itself,” Weir notes.
Memorable scenes include the band working on harmonies for “Candyman” in 1970 as well as unseen footage of their 1974 “farewell” concerts, where Garcia complains about the audience. “What should we do?” he says backstage. “Go out and kill ourselves? We’ve had it, man.”
Long Strange Trip will be featured in select theaters for a limited run on May 26 and will stream exclusively on Amazon Prime beginning June 2.