Hendrix Biopic Clips Surface: Will It Win Over Fans Without His Music?
A few clips from the Jimi Hendrix biopic All Is By My Side, which stars Outkast’s Andre 3000 as the legendary guitarist, have surfaced online this week. The film debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival in September and will be screened at Austin’s South by Southwest festival on Wednesday.
The clip above depicts Hendrix talking to girlfriend Linda Keith, who also dated Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards. She encouraged Hendrix both to pursue writing original material and to move to London, decisions that would be pivotal for his career. The clip above features a private conversation between Keith and Hendrix about their relationship. Another scene, which was obtained by Rolling Stone, shows Hendrix deciding to hire a manager with Keith’s assistance.
The biopic was written and directed by Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave screenwriter John Ridley. Ridley became interested in making a Hendrix biopic after hearing the rare song “Sending My Love to Linda,” which was written about Keith.
While Andre 3000 isn’t known as an actor by trade, he told Rolling Stone that he immersed himself in Hendrix videos and interviews to prepare himself for the role. He said that he “listened to hours of interviews. I watched films — watched his mannerisms,” in order to prepare for the part. In the clips that have surfaced thus far, his performance appears convincing, aided by his physical similarities to the guitarist.
One big roadblock the production has faced is that the Hendrix estate declined to give the filmmakers permission to use any of Hendrix’s original songs, which is kind of a huge bummer for any Hendrix fans who were excited about seeing the first biopic ever made about the man considered by many (including Rolling Stone) to be the greatest guitarist of all time.
Hendrix’s estate, which is currently run by his sister Janie, released a statement, saying, “Various media outlets have recently published accounts that indicate a feature length Jimi Hendrix biographical film is nearing production. Experience Hendrix, L.L.C., the family-owned company entrusted with safeguarding the legacy of Jimi Hendrix and administrator of the Jimi Hendrix music and publishing catalog has made it known many times in the past that no such film, were it to include original music or copyrights created by Jimi Hendrix, can be undertaken without its full participation.”
The production weaseled its way around that rule by having Andre 300 cover songs that Hendrix also covered. Some of that material includes the Beatles’ “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” the Troggs’ “Wild Thing,” and Muddy Waters’ “Mannish Boy,” among others.
Reviews that came out after the movie’s screening in Toronto were almost unanimous in their praise of the film. Instead of attempting to present a portrait of Hendrix’s entire life and career, the movie chooses a small window of time right before Hendrix made it big in London and leading up to a performance at the Monterey Pop Festival that would make him famous.
“What moviegoers do get is a film both thoughtful and convincing, sympathetic but not flattering to a man who had just three years after this period’s end to make himself immortal,” said a review from The Hollywood Reporter, which also praised Andre 3000′s performance.
Entertainment Weekly also praised the film for both its casting and the decision to focus on a short, important period in Hendrix’s life, rather than attempting to cover everything. “This is a movie made not with obligatory biopic beats but with verve and freedom, and offhand, I can’t think of a better way to honor the genius of Hendrix,” EW said.
Andre 3000 had a busy schedule this summer, as in addition to the film, the acclaimed hip-hop duo Outkast reunited to play a slew of the summer’s biggest festivals.
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