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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Jimi Hendrix - The Last 24 Hours
Jimi Hendrix - The Last 24 Hours
Music Video Distributors // Unrated // December 14, 2004
List Price: $16.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Gil Jawetz | posted January 16, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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Conspiracy theorists have had a bonanza with all manner of celebrity nonsense over the years but somehow a lifetime of VH1 watching has left me ignorant to the questions surrounding Jimi Hendrix's death. Jimi Hendrix: The Last 24 Hours purports to present evidence to prove that the legendary guitarist did not just choke on his own vomit, as decades of punchlines have suggested, but rather as part of some sort of convoluted assassination plot.

Even though this documentary covers one of rock music's most vibrant and inventive performers, however, the film itself is stultifying to watch. It's little more than a parade of talking heads from the 60s/70s rock scene interspersed with newsreel footage and ludicrous re-enactments (tinted yellow, for some reason). The film tries to make the case that Hendrix was on to something when he told various people that he expected to die young, even though his words sound more like the fears of a heavily delusional drug user than a man with dangerous enemies.

The tinfoil-hatted creators of this film would have their viewers believe that the Nixon administration and J. Edgar Hoover's FBI (always solid villains to go to in a pinch) wanted to assassinate Hendrix for bringing Black Panther-consciousness to the mainstream. They make vague accusations backed up with nothing more than snippets of unrelated stock footage. This hour-long video is thoroughly lacking in serious insight into any potential controversy.

As a Hendrix biography it's not much meatier. While it does provide a few interesting morsels (like the performer's early stage persona as the very un-PC "Wild Man of Borneo" and the "Black Elvis," remnants of a sideshow era) it's mostly a mess of non-chronological facts and conspiracy-tinged mumbo-jumbo. Very little Hendrix music is present in the film (a short clip of his cover performance of "Hey Joe" is excerpted) and little of the wild and exciting era in which he led the rock scene is communicated.

VIDEO:
The anamorphic widescreen video is nothing special. The stock footage varies but the newly-shot interviews are pretty sharp, if unimaginative. Compression artifacts, however, are evident sporadically throughout the piece.

AUDIO:
The Dolby Digital stereo audio is weirdly mixed, with some interviews far louder than others. In order to hear all the voices viewers will have to constantly ride the volume. Not a fun experience. Subtitles are available in French, Italian, German, Spanish, and Dutch, but not English.

EXTRAS:
Just some still screens with biographical info and photos.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
Jimi Hendrix: The Last 24 Hours is just another in a long line of music documentaries that lack the actual musical content of their subjects. It distinguishes itself with its conspiratorial slant, but frankly there isn't enough interesting material there to warrant the attention. Had Nick Broomfield taken on the project he would have marched up to people who might know some secrets, shoved a boom microphone in their faces, and asked them the tough questions. Too much pussyfooting and too many years past, however, leave this investigation cold.

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