Jim Brown's 2014 documentary Sir Ivan: I Am Peaceman is a quick fifty-four minute look at the life and work of Ivan Wilzig, known to his fans as Peaceman. Born to Jewish parents (his father was a Holocaust survivor and ingrained his belief system into his children with very serious intent), Ivan was lucky enough to come up in a household where, once his dad ‘made it' in the world of finance, money wasn't much of an object. Indeed, at his father's request Ivan spent twenty years working in the banking industry but eventually got to the point where, in his forties, he decided it was time to pursue his real dream of becoming an entertainer.
Having the financial means to throw caution to the wind, Wilzig started recording under the name Sir Ivan but his penchant for wearing capes with giant peace signs on them earned him the nickname Peaceman. As his recording career started to earn him new fans in the club/dance/rave scene, his star began to rise and the parties that he would throw, featuring scores of beautiful naked ladies (this is an important point brought up in the piece rather frequently!), became the stuff of legend in The Hamptons, he began to dedicate a good amount of his time to charity. Much of his work focused on combating hate crimes and on helping people who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, which again ties into how he was raised and the values that were instilled in him by his father, now deceased. His mother, on the other hand, wound up taking possession of a massive collection of ‘erotic art' and opened up her own museum dedicated to displaying the collection. That's not to discount what she does, the museum looks awesome and when we see mother and son together there's a very obvious and genuine affection for one another on display.
The documentary also introduces us to Ivan's soul mate, a beautiful Japanese woman named Mina (at one point he has a body cast made of her which is turned into a naked dragon lady statue and put in his pool!) as well as his brother, with whom he used to share his castle home (the brother moved out once he became a father). Again, you get the impression that despite Ivan's hedonistic lifestyle that these people really and truly do care about one another. Some footage of Ivan in the recording studio doing drum and bass/dance covers of sixties anti-war and protest songs is in here as is some footage of him shooting different music videos, attending a radio interview, visiting a school in a low income neighborhood and, of course, hosting some absolutely MASSIVE parties.
At less than an hour this one is a bit on the short side but it paints an interesting portrait a unique individual. Humility isn't Ivan's strong-point, he obviously likes to do things his way and it's quite clear that he enjoys being the center of attention. At the same time, in an age where billionaire's are more interested in running the country through Super PAC's and electoral insanity it's nice to see a guy who wants to use his money for two main purposes: to have a Hell of a lot of fun and to help people. He's not giving it all away (nor does he need to)… he lives like a king and is driven around in a limousine, but assuming the depiction in the documentary is accurate the guy does do quite a bit of legitimate charity work.
Even if you don't like dance music (I don't), care about the lifestyles of the rich and famous (I'm a working class guy, can't relate to them) or enjoy running around in capes (I did that once but it was in my backyard and I was drunk) it's hard not to find this a bit inspiring. As to the technical merits of the movie itself, it's reasonably well put together in that it flows nicely. The interviews are nicely shot while some of the party footage is, quite understandably, a little less polished. Ivan's music is used throughout the movie and it works in the context of the piece. If you're a people watcher and enjoy learning about eccentrics, don't mind a bit of overindulgence or just want to check out a movie that'll leave you impressed with one man's rather insane but inherently positive outlook, this is worth checking out.The DVD:
Sir Ivan: I Am Peaceman arrives on DVD in 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen and it looks alright. This was clearly shot on digital video not film so there's nothing in the way of print damage to note. The colors in the costumes that Ivan wears and in his home look quite nice here. Some minor compression artifacts do pop up in some of the party footage but otherwise things look just fine here.Sound:
The English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track is about on par with the video in that it's not reference quality but it's perfectly fine. The dialogue is nice and clear, the music has some nice bounce to it and there aren't an problems with balance nor any issues with hiss or distortion.Extras:
Extras include five promotional music videos from Sir Ivan's catalogue as well as a six video in which some of his music plays over top of footage from one of his massive parties out in The Hamptons. Static menus and chapter selection are also provided..Final Thoughts:
Sir Ivan: I Am Peaceman is interesting enough that those with an interest in documentaries that cover eccentrics will want to check it out. It's on the short side at less than an hour in length but it's funny, insightful and at times genuinely inspiring. Ivan might have an ego and he might come across as difficult sometimes but you always get the impression that his heart is in the right place. Recommended if the subject matter interests you, a very solid rental for the curious.