June 16, 2024

Joan Baez I Am A Noise 2023 Movie Review

Joan Baez I Am A Noise
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Joan Baez I Am A Noise 2023 Movie Review

The life, career and, last but not least, political commitment of the folk musician and activist Joan Baez, who was born in New York City in 1941, are so rich and so impressive that none of this is fully depicted in any film (and certainly not reflected in a film review). can be. In 2009, Mary Wharton shot the documentary portrait “Joan Baez. How Sweet the Sound” – and yet “Joan Baez I Am A Noise” by Karen O’Connor, Miri Navasky and Maeve O’Boyle is far from merely providing a repetition or addition.

The trio finds its own unique approach – probably thanks to the long-standing friendship of one of the directors with Baez. At the beginning it is said that every person leads three lives: public, private and secret. The film provides insight into all three spheres, which of course do not exist independently of each other.

First of all, there is the international star Joan Baez, whose career is traced through archive material. A focus is on the later years. “Do you still have that?” Baez is asked in reference to her unique soprano voice on a TV show. Would an interviewer approach a male singing icon with similar skepticism, almost condescension?

We see Baez training with a voice coach and accompanying her on late tours. Of course, Joan Baez I Am A Noise doesn’t contain the older recordings of the singer’s iconic moments and performances – but it makes it clear that it continues, that the “noise” mentioned in the title, the “(disturbance) noise”, the “noise” does not stop as soon as a person reaches a certain age and is therefore perhaps less present in the media and in our daily consciousness. Baez is still there. And for all the modesty, all the clever self-reflection that Baez displays in the film’s talking head passages, we want to say: “Yeah, she still has it!”

Baez’s tireless work as a civil rights activist, alongside Martin Luther King in the fight against racial segregation and later against the Vietnam War, together with the journalist David Harris, with whom she was married for several years and had a son, is also given the necessary space . When we hear the young Baez, who co-founded the Institute for the Study of Nonviolence , talk about her striving for a non-violent world, it becomes obvious, for example in light of today’s cases of police violence, that Baez’s demands have (unfortunately) lost none of their urgency. What is also remarkable is how Baez consistently refers to herself as Ally in conversationpositioned instead of emphasizing her own importance: It’s not about her courage, but about that of those directly affected, she says when she talks about the civil rights movement.

The private aspect is negotiated, among other things, on the basis of the temporary relationship with Bob Dylan. In our current media world, the celebrity couple (Joan + Bob = Boan?) would probably make many followers cheer and rave on Instagram. Baez speaks favorably about the time when she and Dylan were just “kids together,” but also expresses disappointment at the estrangement that later set in. She wasn’t part of the Boys Club , which experimented with drugs – and therefore at some point no longer a part of the increasingly successful singer-songwriter’s life.

Ultimately, what remains is the secret life. The directing trio works with animations to visualize diary entries from Baez’s childhood and youth. The difficult relationship with the parents, especially the father, and also the quite ambivalent relationships with the two sisters are illuminated in Baez’s own words. Baez speaks openly about mental health issues and emphasizes the value of therapy. The therapeutic discussion brought to light what she had repressed – and enabled Baez to understand and classify some things better in retrospect.

When we leave Baez at the end of the film, after seeing her dancing in the California sun while walking her dog, there is deep admiration and, above all, great gratitude. For everything she’s done. And for everything she is willing to share – from all three lives.

Joan Baez I Am A Noise 2023 Movie Review