Friday, May 07, 2010

Young @ Heart, a film by Stephen Walker

Thomas Ford showed the documentary Young @ Heart a year or two ago. It was not my turn to show the film and lead the discussion, but I heard that attendance for the program was good and that our moviegoers liked it. I have long intended to see Young @ Heart but had not until Bonnie taped from PBS. Even then, it sat on tape for weeks before we sat down to view it. It was well worth the wait.

The Young @ Heart Chorus is a seniors group in Northampton, Massachusetts, formed by Bob Climan in the early 1980s. The average age of the men and women in the chorus is around eighty years. You might think that the chorus would concentrate on singing old American songs, such as "My Old Kentucky Home" or "I Dream of Jeannie," but you would be mistaken. Instead the folks, whom you get to know in the documentary, tackle songs by James Brown, Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, and Radiohead. The act has been so successful that the chorus has toured Europe and played before the king of Norway.

Young @ Heart starts with a live crowd-pleasing performance by the chorus of the Clash's "Should I Stay or Should I Go," followed with their humorous music video version of the Ramones's "I Want to Be Sedated." Then we see them at rehearsal with Bob Climan introducing new songs for a concert to be held in seven weeks. The seniors complain about some of the songs right off, but trusting their director, they continue to come to rehearsals to learn music they would not consider even listening to at home. Viewers wonder both whether the chorus will learn the lyrics in time and stay healthy enough to perform. One of my favorite scenes is the music video of the chorus singing the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive" in a bowling alley; in a way, it is a song you might expect given the circumstances, but it is so well done that you have to love it. (This video also has the advantage of timing at 1:13 as opposed to the Bee Gees 3:55 original.)

Seeing that the DVD has deleted scenes, including the complete "Purple Haze," I placed a hold. By searching "Young @ Heart", you can find many of the videos and some interviews on YouTube.

Young @ Heart. Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, 2008.

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