>While watching Peter Bogdanovich’s Running Down a Dream about Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers the first time I think, ‘Where on earth was I all those years and how could it be that I didn’t realize what a great band they were?’. But, then after watching this four hour(!) documentary about the Heartbreakers’ 30 years in Rock and Roll, I realized that I knew nearly every song featured in the film, could identify in what phase of my life I was, where I lived, how I made a living, who my friends were. Not once did I think ‘oh yeah, I remember that song’. I didn’t have to recall the songs; I knew them. Maybe they weren’t a soundtrack to many years of my life, but they certainly were there in the background.
Running Down a Dream played one time in several theatres in mid-October. It played where I lived, but I didn’t know about it. I probably wouldn’t have thought much about it and would have questioned who in their right mind except a fanatic would sit through a four hour documentary about a rock band? I never would have gone to see it.
But the other night we were flipping channels and found this film starting on The Sundance Channel. We intended to watch it for only a few minutes. Who would have thought four hours later we were still there at the closing credits. The pacing of this film is such that you don’t notice that four hours have slipped away.
The film has plenty of concert footage, and tells the story of the band from when the struggled, through legal battles with record companies, and band changes. It highlights Petty’s solo career — which was never separated much from The Heartbreakers — and his collaborations with other music greats like the always cool George Harrison, the magnificent Roy Orbison, the iconic Bob Dylan and the one and only Man in Black Johnny Cash. It also is about how the songs were written and what the band was striving to create. If you are a big Tom Petty fan, this might feel like heaven. But, this is not a movie just for Petty fans; it is a film for anyone interested in music, songwriting and artistry.
I hardly ever watch a movie twice, and usually repeat viewings are separated by months or years. This afternoon was the third time this week I’ve watched all or part of this film. It is that good. This afternoon’s viewing is the last that I know is scheduled at this time, but the DVD is for sale at Best Buys. It’s worth seeing. At the time I’m posting this, it’s not too late to catch the last hour of this terrific film.
Oh baby don’t it feel like heaven right now
Don’t it feel like somethin from a dream
Yeah I’ve never known nothing quite like this
Don’t it feel like tonight might never be again
We know better than to try and pretend
Baby no one could have ever told me ’bout this
~The Waiting Tom Petty
Edit: Here is a link to an interview with Bogdanovich (with IFC.com) on the making of this movie. I find it interesting that he didn’t know much about Petty and was not a fan when he agreed to make the movie.