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Lynyrd Skynyrd - I'll Never Forget You: The Last 72 Hours Of Lynyrd Skynyrd
I think both in fictional movies and documentaries, when airplane trouble happens when a musical act is one of the passengers on the plane, the comedy to diffuse the tension is palpable, whether it is a tribute to "The Night the Music Died" when the Big Bopper, Richie Valens and Buddy Holly passed, or when members of Lynyrd Skynrd died in a 1977 plane crash. Neverthless, I'll Never Forget You attempts to put some emotion into the tragic event.
The film is based on the novel by Gene Odom, friend of singer Ronnie Van Zandt and who wrote the book that serves as the foundation for the film. In it, he, along with others that survived the crash (backup singer Leslie Hawkins and guitar roadie Craig Reed) as they share their thoughts on the crash and offer some thoughts on the days and hours leading up to the tragic events.
So when it comes to the film itself, the story it tells compared to the story that many are familiar with seem to be a couple of different things. For the sake of disclosure I'm not much of a Skynyrd fan, not that I dislike them, I've just never gotten into them, but like other bands that have a wide following, I respect that, and the musical efforts. But the film at times comes off like one that Odom tends to shape; a big thing that stuck out for me were a couple of insinuations about the pilot that don't hold up to post-crash investigations, and it veers from heartfelt story into a little bit of supposition, which tends to make you feel a little uncomfortable.
This isn't to say that I'll Never Forget You is bad; it does have the feel of an unauthorized story, which is both good and bad, the latter I outlined previously. Odom's friendship with Van Zandt seems genuine but there isn't much of a connect for the viewer to see the reasons why. The emotion when Odom recounts some of these things is, but it doesn't go over the goal line with them to really connect.
I don't doubt that Gene Odom was a friend of Ronnie Van Zandt and they got along swimmingly, but when it comes to I'll Never Forget You, between some of the things he says in the film, and some of the decisions the film makes with their re-enactments, it comes across as a little awkward to watch at times. It's not that it's a bad film, just one that feels a little halfhearted in the story that it's trying to tell.
1.78:1 anamorphic video for this which looks good and juggles old concert footage, stills and contemporary interviews well. The latter looks fine, with colors and flesh tones appearing natural and without artificial pushes to them or to the image as a whole. It looks fine given what it works with.
The Dolby stereo track sounds clean as can be, given that it doesn't use any of the discography and relies on generic rock music to fill some gaps, while dialogue sounds consistent and without drop-offs, hissing or other distractions.
Not too much here; the "40th Anniversary Event" (5:41) includes thoughts on the band from admirers and what the music and band mean to them, and they spot their favorite song, "Fishing Advice" (1:28) is Odom talking about just that, and "Tennessee Iron Cold Dark Mississippi Night" (5:44) is a video based on a poem Odom wrote after the crash.
The moments near I'll Never Forget You that are gripping and emotional, and those should have served as the motivation for the rest of the film, for it to be something that was truly memorable. Technically it is fine, and the supplements are what they are generally. If you're a fan of the band then you'll want to check this out, but it doesn't emerge as something that strikes emotional chords for mainstream music fans or anyone looking for a memorable story.