Today’s Documentary Premieres profiles kicks off with a portrait of one of the seminal bands of the 1970s: Alison Ellwood’s HISTORY OF THE EAGLES PART ONE
Sundance Program Description:
Alison Ellwood’s intimate, meticulously crafted patchwork of rare archival material, concert footage, and unseen home movies explores the evolution and enduring popularity of one of America’s truly defining bands.
Inspired by the vibrant Los Angeles music scene, Glenn Frey and Don Henley left Linda Ronstadt’s backup band to team with Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner and form the Eagles in 1971. While personal stories from band members (later including Don Felder, Joe Walsh, and Timothy Schmit), managers, and music-industry luminaries frame the narrative, it’s the unexpected moments—recording sessions, backstage interactions, and even a whimsical sequence from the Desperado cover shoot—that convey the inexplicable rapport linking artists, music, and the times (an era when country-tinged rock and pristine harmonies spoke to a nation still reeling from unrest).
But the band was not impervious to its own unrest, and its conflicts prompted several departures and ultimately led to its demise (or long vacation). This HISTORY OF THE EAGLES PART ONE skips neither a beat nor a hit song, and we’re reminded why the band’s Their Greatest Hits collection remains one of the best-selling albums in U.S. history.
This film marks Ellwood’s solo feature directing debut, but she’s no stranger to Park City – with Alex Gibney, she jointly directed MAGIC TRIP (2011), and produced and edited CASINO JACK AND THE UNITED STATES OF MONEY (2010), GONZO: THE LIFE AND WORK OF DR HUNTER S THOMPSON (2008), and ENRON: THE SMARTEST GUYS IN THE ROOM (2005), among other Gibney directed films. Gibney swaps roles this time around, serving as the doc’s producer.
Why You Should Watch:
Who hasn’t found themselves singing along with one of the Eagles’ many hit songs? While a natural for the band’s fans, the film will also appeal to a broader audience for Ellwood’s ability to represent the explosion of musical creativity of the time, as also featured in past Sundance doc TROUBADOURS. She works with a treasure trove of archival material to convey an astonishing sense of place, re-locating the viewer to viscerally experience 1970s Los Angeles, the decade the band dominated. Plus, viewers should be intrigued by the possibilities hinted at in the “PART ONE” of the title.
For screening dates and times at Sundance, click the link in the first paragraph.