Moog (Music Documentary)
Sound: B- Extras: B+ Film: B+
It has been a short time since the passing of the great
Doctor Robert A. Moog, but he did live to see Hans Fjellestad’s amazing
documentary Moog (2004) finished and the tight, loaded 70 minutes shows
how a man whose ideas about music were considered temporary and odd became the
future of the artform in so many ways.
Beginning with a montage of a circuit board and voice over by Mr. Moog
himself, how he initially approached doing electronic music, showing the man at
the end. This moves into animated
titles and the story begins.
In the early years, the sounds his machines produced were
considered futuristic, which only very recently (thanks to Hip Hop, sampling,
DJs, turntablists, mixers and New Wave) the world caught up with. Early on, it was Progressive Rock bands like
Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Yes who picks up their possibilities, while
Stanley Kubrick was one of the first filmmakers to do so with Walter (Wendy)
Carlos on his 1971 landmark A Clockwork Orange. Carlos’ album Switched On Bach (1968)
was the first major long-form work to prove that electronic sound music was not
just something for the fringes of other compositions to decorate or sex them
up. With cell phones having endless
ring tones in this mode, it can be easy to forget just how much of an impact
Moog and the synthesizer that bares his name has had worldwide since the
1970s. Only the rise of the PC can
compare and Moogs even foreran them.
He takes the time to explain the functions of his
monumental invention in a way that everyone can understand, then we get
interviews with some of the most talented musicians in the business, including
Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman, plus music performances surface later throughout
all the way to great acts like Stereolab.
The history and the rare film clips alone are enough to keep you
watching, but director Fjellestad (for lack of a better word) synthesizes
together an amazing portrait of the man first, then his work and influence
afterwards. Of course, it is great when
a really good man at heart does great things and these types of stories are
always terrific. It makes sense that
someone who knows who they are could be so creative and important without
pretense or even hate. The more you
watch Moog, the more you love it.
The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image is a
compilation of film, videotape and stills that is better than usual for a
documentary, looking clean and clear.
This is well-edited material by the director and is always interesting
throughout on a visual level thanks to solid cinematography by Elia Lyssy. The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has very
healthy Pro Logic surrounds and though some audio is originally mono, great
care has been taken to clean and refine every piece of sound so vital to a key
work about music. Extras include a
trailer for the film, DVD-ROM feature to use authentic Moog software, eight
excellent deleted scenes that should have stayed in the film, three additional
electronic performances, director’s “notes” really representing select audio
commentary with video and a terrific commercial for the Schaefer Beer brand
that was one of the first to use the Moog so explicitly, as played here by Edd
Kalehoff. Oddly, it is letterboxed at
1.78 X 1, making one wonder if this might have played in some theatrical film
outlets of the time. Moog is yet
another outstanding DVD from Plexifilm.
Visit www.Plexifilm.com for more
detail about this and other great Plexifilm releases.
- Nicholas Sheffo