I must admit, I went into the cinema with not-so-high expectations. As much as I was looking forward to finally see the Boss on the big screen on my home turf (for one thing, Singapore has an almost non-existant hardcore Springsteen fanbase, hence it's surprising it's being screened here at all), I wasn't so sure I would've like the idea of watching many fans talk about their undying love for Bruce and his music. I felt like enough has been said that didn't need further validation. Well, it turned out much better than I thought, although actually it isn't so much a film per se, as it is a home video love letter to Bruce. It obviously wasn't professionally shot (so much fan footage of varying compositions and quality), but it was professionally and sometimes cleverly edited. The audio mix on the concert footage (some pro-shot and never seen before, some fan-shot) was not too bad for the most part. There was a good balance of light-hearted and heavy moments provided by fans young and old, from all walks of life.
The people featured were mostly American. There were fans who talked about Bruce like a teenage girl fawning over their favorite boy band, some funny, some downright cringe-worthy. There were a few who described their meeting Bruce, usually during a show. The highlight was of course Philly Elvis (Spectrum '09). I've seen some of that footage before, but what was striking to me was how this man/Elvis imposter 'directed' the E Street band in the spur of the moment, and went from All Shook Up to Blue Suede Shoes. It was amazing....further visual proof that the band could turn on a dime, even without instructions from their leader! Then there were many who described what he and his music meant to their own lives -- my favorite was this young Asian American lady truck driver who talked about listening to Nebraska during long, lonely drives across the desert, and how Bruce's songs made us feel like we were important. There was this man talking while driving, describing how listening to the songs was like going through a family photo album, and he slowly ended up in tears -- what started out as slightly funny ended up a raw, powerful moment. There was also this girl who recited a heartfelt letter intended for Bruce, and she was essentially speaking for the fans out there, summing up what many of us feel about the man.
The Blood Brothers experience (Madison Square Garden '00) as told by the Danish guy, Jon, was emotional; his way of talking and mannerisms almost imitating Bruce's. He mentioned how he felt like he was the only one in the room, like Bruce was singing to him and him only. I totally get what he means. Another highlight was a British wife, a huge fan, interviewing her husband, a 'non-fan', who was forced to accompany her to many shows over the years. His response to one of his wife's questions ('What would you say to Bruce if you met him?') was 'shorten your concerts.' It sure was hilarious, but in a way those three simple words also showed the out-of-this-world dedication Bruce has to his audience when it comes to performing live.
The duration of the show was under an hour thirty, but after the cool Born To Run credit sequence came six songs from the 'infamous' Hyde Park show last year [link]. It's been broadcast before, but it's something else watching it in high-definition on the big screen, loud with surround sound. Thunder Road never sounded so great. And then finally following that was a lengthy epilogue of what transpired between some of the more prominent (European) cast members and Bruce backstage before the Denmark show back in May. It may have looked like an 'afterthought' of sorts to include this part in, but it kinda summed up the essence of what the movie was about in the first place, especially right at the end where the Danish guy was being interviewed. I walked away, never felt prouder to be a Bruce Springsteen fan. Thanks, Boss.