Bruce Springsteen’s ultimate fan tribute documentary, presented by a certain Ridley Scott, opens in Liverpool next week – Getintothis’ Alan O’Hare talks to the director Baillie Walsh – and we’ve a pair of tickets to give away too.
The relationship between artists and the fanatics who follow them has always been an interesting one.
From Woody Allen‘s sideways look at fame, back in 1980’s ‘Stardust Memories‘, right up to, say, Lady Gaga‘s online relationship with her followers, tension has always existed.
How far can a relationship that relies on deifying another person go? When does it become obsessive? And how far will the egos of said objects of affection be prepared to go to, well, sell another ticket or record?
It’s a universal subject in 2013. Idols are no longer the domain of the love-struck teenager or the dutiful football fan – even soap stars have octogenarian stalkers these days.
Coming out into the middle of all this is a new documentary, presented by Ridley Scott, called ‘Springsteen & I‘. The premise is a unique and simple one: a picture dominated by footage filmed by Bruce Springsteen fans. The film opens in Liverpool next Monday (July 22) and anticipation is high.
“We had over 2000 contributions,” says director, Baillie Walsh (remember Massive Attack‘s brilliant promo for ‘Unfinished Sympathy‘? That was Walsh). “But what says it all to me about Bruce Springsteen and his fans is that we didn’t receive any of what I’d call ‘crazy’ videos… the stories touch you and have made the documentary into a very emotional film.”
The rub comes when Walsh reveals to us that he’s not even a Springsteen follower. Well, he wasn’t: “I didn’t come into this as a fan. I was asked to do it, thought about it for two minutes and said yes! The challenge for me was to make a series of contributor’s clips into a film worth watching.”
The director – whose work includes the Daniel Craig-starring ‘Flashbacks of a Fool‘ and Oasis‘ ‘Lord Don’t Slow Me Down‘ documentary – met with Springsteen and his management earlier this year and was bowled over: “Once I’d said ‘yes’ to the filmmakers, I flew to meet Bruce at a gig of his at Giants Stadium in New Jersey. I tried to talk them into it – but found myself not needing too! They liked the idea, were open to it and gave us their blessing… along with access to Bruce’s own personal archive, which was vital to the thread I wove into the film.”
It seems, even in 2013 with Twitter, iPhones and every person in the world a paparazzo, one of the biggest rock and roll stars on the planet was open to a connection. “Bruce even insisted on no editorial input from his team,” reveals Walsh. “This is why him and his fans were the perfect subject for this film – the people really trust Bruce and he trusts them.”
Anyone who has been lucky enough to witness Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band live will confirm that. And here comes the admission: Getintothis are big fans. But, hey, it’s hard not to keep falling for someone who still, at 63 years of age, will go crowd-surfing in a stadium without security… and be delivered back to the stage by his faithful just in time for a chorus!
“His fans really expose their feelings in the film and that’s what he does on-stage,” says Walsh, who will now concede to being an “admirer” of the New Jersey boss (if not a fully fledged fanatic).
“I was full of fear going into the project, as I obviously didn’t know the quality of the material I’d be working with – but that’s exactly why the picture has turned out to be a unique piece of filmmaking.”
“It has enormous charm,” continues Walsh. “Enormous charm… and it really works because there are no camera crews – everything you see is completely natural.”
What do we see? The obvious (the ‘Courtney Cox‘ wannabe dancing with ‘The Boss’), the madness (an Elvis look-a-like getting up to sing with Bruce and the band) and the emotional (“Bruce taught me how to be a decent man,” declares a young lad from Israel).
There are people who travel around the world watching Springsteen, people who sleep outside stadiums overnight just to be near that famous Fender Telecaster and an epilogue that really does sum up the relationship between Springsteen and his community.
“That’s really touching,” reveals the director. “Bruce had seen an advance copy and spotted a couple who are featured in the film at a recent gig in Copenhagen…” That’s enough! We won’t spoil the final moments for you.
One question remained though: if he’s seen it, what did he make of it?
“Well, if I tell you that we had absolute freedom in making it and no requests to leave anything out… what do you think?! He loves it.” Of course he does. He’s one of the very few artists of his generation (or the ones that followed and still follow) left, who trust their instincts and don’t hide behind history.
Bruce Springsteen deals in truth and, if you believe in the redemptive power of rock ‘n’ roll music just like the acolytes in Springsteen and I, then you’ll love the facts in this film too. Like the one about a song being no good unless someone hears it…
Springsteen and I opens July 22 2013 in selected cinemas across the country. For details of Liverpool screenings, please click here.
To win a pair of tickets to a showing at Liverpool Cineworld on Monday at 7pm, just follow Getintothis on Twitter and answer the following question and add #Springsteen
Q) What was the name of Springsteen’s 1975 album?
a) Born to Run
b) Born To Die
c) Born To Be Wild
d) Born This Way
Closing date Friday 12noon.