Springsteen Songs Spark Coming of Age Film

By Chris Jordan, Asbury Park Press

Baby, we were Born to Run — to Luton. Yes, Luton. In the United Kingdom. That’s where the improbable, but maybe not so improbable, story of the impact of Bruce Springsteen’s music on a South Asian Muslim teenager named Javed growing up in ’80s England takes place in the new movie musical “Blinded by the Light.” 

Javed, played with heart by Viveik Kalra, uses the Boss’ music to get the girl, stand up to his dad, take on the bullies and ultimately as a vessel of self-awareness. It’s based on the memoir of journalist and Springsteen fan Sarfraz Manzoor, titled “Greetings from Bury Park.”

It’s a charmer. A coming of age in the ’80s movie that’s kind of like John Hughes meets Springsteen in Thatcher England.

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Javed (Viveik Kalra) and Eliza (Nell Williams) dance in “Blinded by the Light.” (Photo: Nick Wall)

How Writer Got Springsteen’s Attention

By Hardeep Phull

In his 1984 track “No Surrender,” Bruce Springsteen famously wrote, “We learned more from a three-minute record, baby, than we ever learned in school.” Sarfraz Manzoor knows that feeling.

Growing up as one of four siblings in the grim, post-industrial British town of Luton (30 miles north of London) during the 1980s, Manzoor was caught between the cultural expectations of his overbearing Pakistani-immigrant mother and father — Rasool Bibi and Mohammed Manzoor — and his own desires to escape the everyday racism that was part of his stifling surroundings.

As a 16-year-old, Manzoor faced that lonely battle, and school wasn’t giving him any solutions. However, it was the Boss who gave him the spark that started a fire. And the result, all these years later, is the film “Blinded by the Light,” in theaters Friday.

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Sarfraz Manzoor and “The Boss.”

Top 10 Best Uses of Springsteen Music in Film

Bruce Springsteen has not just made his mark on the musical world, but on the cinematic one as well. An Academy Award for Best Original Song, countless appearances on soundtracks, cameo appearances in movies and documentaries about his work; Springsteen lives up to his moniker – The Boss. With “Blinded by the Light” opening this week and celebrating his life/music, what better time is there to look at the man’s contributions to cinema?

Below you will see ten of the best uses of Springsteen and his music in cinema to date. Honorable mentions include “Dead Man Walking” (for which he received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song) “Long Shot,” as well as “Ricki and the Flash.” Special citation goes to “The Indian Runner” from Sean Penn, as it’s based on the Springsteen song “Highway Patrolman.” It also goes without saying that the documentary “Springsteen & I,” as well as the Netflix special “Springsteen on Broadway” deserve a shout out as well.

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David Crosby: Remember My Name

Last Monday night, Washington Post movie critic Anne Hornaday joined me for my presentation at the Smithsonian where we discussed the impact the 1970 documentary on Woodstock had on the legacy of the most-famous mud and myth rock festival of the 1960s.

Hornaday was a huge music fan (especially of the Who) before she became a film critic, which may partially explain why her reviews of music documentaries are so insightful. Of course, the main reason for her success is that Anne is a great analyzer and a powerfully descriptive writer no matter what type of film she is reviewing.

Tonight, I saw the new film David Crosby: Remember My Name and here is Anne’s review to help you better understand the film if you should decide to see it.

By Ann Hornaday

Washington Post Movie critic

Rating:     (3 stars)

“David Crosby: Remember My Name” was one of the breakout hits at Sundance this year, and understandably so: In this film, the pioneering folk-rock musician — who will turn 78 in a couple of weeks — emerges less as a lion in winter than a tiger in full attack mode, as often as not against himself.

Haloed by a nimbus of cottony white hair, still sporting the walrus mustache he made chic in the 1960s, Crosby presents a reflective, irascible, observant and irresistibly candid figure in a documentary that ostensibly chronicles one of his many comeback tours but becomes something far more introspective. “Remember My Name” joins a cohort of nostalgic music movies that have glutted theaters this summer, and it spares few musical pleasure points: When Crosby reminisces about forming the Byrds, Crosby, Stills and Nash, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, those glorious harmonies burst forth with the same exhilarating abandon baby boomers thrilled to when they heard them for the first time.

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Heading to Woodstock – 50 Years On

It was music and it was magic. It was a muddy mess elevated to modern-day myth. It was Melanie, Mountain, and a multitude of hippies, peaceniks, flower children, and freaks. It was mind-blowing and momentous, and it became a milestone for the ages. It was Woodstock. And I wasn’t there. 

Now, at the time, I had a good reason for not going.  Two-and-a-half weeks before Woodstock, the first three-day rock festival on the East Coast was staged just a few miles from Atlantic City, New Jersey, at the Atlantic City Racetrack. There, 50,000 fans attended the Atlantic City Pop Festival and I was one of them. During those three days, I saw Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Santana, Joe Cocker, Iron Butterfly, Canned Heat, and Joni Mitchell, all of whom were scheduled to perform at Woodstock. I also saw, among others, The Mothers of Invention, Procul Harum, the Byrds, B.B. King, Chicago, Three Dog Night, the Chambers Brothers, Dr. John the Night Tripper, and Little Richard. So, when friends from my South Jersey hometown asked me to join them on a journey to Woodstock, I declined. 

But I didn’t let the fact that I didn’t go to Woodstock keep me from writing about the festival just one month after it happened. Woodstock was the subject of my first freshman out-of-class essay I wrote in September of 1969 for Villanova University English Department Chairman Dr. Robert Wilkinson. Dr. Wilkinson deemed my essay cogent, informative, and insightful, but awarded me a grade of D since it contained two spelling errors and two grammatical mistakes. (He was a truly tough evaluator and I hope you will be easier on my books). Despite that crappy start, Dr. Wilkinson eventually became my life-long mentor and was one of the three main influencers (my mother Mary Louise Ivins Price and my high school journalism teacher Jack Gillespie being the others) who led me to enter the worlds of teaching and writing. 

And now, 50 years later, I am returning to Woodstock as a subject for my writing. The festival, in both its original year and its 50th anniversary, is serving as a main linking event in a three-book series I am writing examining the past, present, and future of the music we now call classic rock. In this book, Come Together: How the Baby Boomers, the Beatles, and a Youth Counterculture Combined to Create the Music of the Woodstock GenerationI’m attempting to guide readers through the post-World War II years of the rhythm and blues and country and western music that set the stage for rock & roll, the early Elvis years of rock, the Beatles invasion of America, the psychedelic ’67 Summer of Love, a tumultuous 1968, and the historic festival at Woodstock one year later.  

The next book in the series, What’s That Sound? –  25 Genres and 50 Artists Who Helped Make the Music of the Woodstock Generation will pick up the story at the three-day anniversary celebration held in 2019 at the site of the original Woodstock festival. Then we’ll explore the music of artists who performed at the Woodstock music festival, the Atlantic City Pop Festival, and later in the ’70s, all of which led to the creation of what we today call classic rock. The final volume – tentatively titled Rock of Agers: Why Do the Classic Sounds of the Woodstock Generation Continue to Resonate So Loudly Today? – will show you how you can experience the entire classic rock story by sailing on four floating Woodstock-festival-like music-themed cruises. The book then offers six chapters examining the variety of ways the sounds and legacy of classic rock are being passed on to new listeners.  

So start saving your money. I think the books will be worth buying and I hope you will, too.

From Ape to Angel: Even After 50 Years, 2001: A Space Odyssey Can Still Amaze

By Dave Price

Since its debut in 1968, science-fiction enthusiasts and fans of great films have been debating the meaning of the epic movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, a joint project from renowned movie director Stanley Kubrick and famed novelist Arthur C. Clarke.

That’s why many of them were hoping with the 2018 release of his book, Space Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, and the Making of a Masterpiece, which celebrates the enigmatic film’s 50thanniversary, author Michael Benson would finally provide definitive answers to their questions.

However, despite years of researching, Benson readily admits he still isn’t certain exactly what Kubrick and Clarke were trying to say in their “implicit rather explicit” film.

“It is a masterwork of oblique visceral and intuited meanings which permits every viewer to project his or her own understanding on it. And that’s an important reason for the film’s enduring power and relevance,” Benson says.

In 1968, Kubrick claimed he wanted audiences “to pay attention with their eyes” as they viewed his epic, evolutionary journey of humans from “ape to angel.

”The director likened his and Clarke’s work more to a painting than a regular film, an idea solidified by the fact the 142-minute film contains less than 40 minutes of dialogue. The dialogue-free imagistic story telling is a non-verbal, more akin to a musical masterpiece than a typical film” Benson writes in the forward to his 497-page opus.

When it was released 50 years ago, the film was initially dismissed as incomprehensible. But it quickly found favor with hipper elements of the Baby Boom generation, who were looking to drugs and ancient Eastern philosophies to take them on an inner journey and viewed the film as a similar attempt to grasp the complexities of an even more mind-boggling universe.

Soon it began receiving critical praise as well. Today, it is regarded as one of the greatest and most influential films ever made. 2001 was named the number 1 science fiction movie of all-time by the American Film Institute (AFI). It was also listed as number 15 on the AFI’s “100 Years, 100 Movies” list. In 1991, the film was deemed “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant” by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Now I don’t pretend to be an expert on 2001, but I have seen the film a half-dozen times in my life, first as a 16-year old when it was released and most recently as a 66-year-old at a recent viewing at the Smithsonian Museum of American History which was followed by an engaging, thought-provoking talk by Benson.

So, after five decades, what do I feel certain in saying about the film?

First, as its title implies, it is a saga about a journey, one loosely informed by Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey, a sequel to his equally famous The Iliad. While The Iliadis about the fall of Troy, The Odysseyconcerns the 10-year, action-packed journey of one of the greatest surviving Greek warriors, Ulysses, as he struggles to return to his kingdom in Ithaca. But while Homer’s tale was bound by the limited knowledge of the ancient world, 2001tackles the vastness of interplanetary, interstellar, and intergalactic space with a fantastic adventure encompassing 400 million years of human evolution from howling apes discovering that bones could be weapons of death to the fictional rebirth of a sole surviving space explorer as a new superhuman “star child.”

Other borrowings from Homer abound in the film. For example, the astronaut hero is named Dave Bowman, a not-so-subtle reference to the fact the Ulysses used a bow and arrows to vanquish the suitors for his wife Penelope when he finally made it home.

But the greatest homage to Homer is the fact that the eerily calm-speaking, yet decidedly evil rogue super-computer Bowman must “kill” in the film is represented by a glaring single eye, echoing the central characteristic of the mighty, one-eyed Cyclops Ulysses must overcome in his journey.

There is no question that Kubrick and Clarke were determined to offer their story of human evolution in mythic terms and were steeped in the ideas of author Joseph Campbell’s seminal work The Hero with a Thousand Faces. In his book, Campbell contends that rite of passage for any mythological hero encompasses “separation-initiation-return,” a sequence which perfectly captures the tale of both Ulysses and Bowman.

Much of the mystery of the movie comes from the giant black monoliths – the first seen in the opening scene with the apes. Another black monolith, later discovered buried on the moon, proves the finding that launches Bowman and his fellow astronauts (who like Ulysses’ men do not survive) on their incredible journey to Jupiter and beyond. Here, I concur with the belief the monoliths are the creations of a super-alien race, which like the overlord gods of ancient Greek legend, has continued to have a hand on affairs on Earth.

Of course, the biggest impact of the film rests in its visually spellbinding scenes, which can still astound today. From the disturbing appearance of the murderous apes to the various spaceflights to the lobotomization of HAL-9000 (‘I’m sorry Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that”) to the final strange, abstract “Star Gate” sequence where Bowman ages, only to finally materialize as an ethereal, floating fetus, the film offers an experience which has yet to be duplicated even with our modern technological advances.

There is no question 2001deals with some of the major issues of modernity including evolution, the benefits and perils of technology, artificial intelligence, space exploration, and the concept of God. However, the film poses more questions than it answers.

In fact, the lasting brilliance of Kubrick’s and Clarke’s creation is it allows us to make our own decisions of meaning, much as in our actual lives we must weigh the possibility of human transformation through technology against the warnings of the dangers of that same technology.

Therein lies much of the disagreement about the film. Some viewers regard the film – especially its ending – as an optimistic statement of humanity. Others argue the film is a pessimistic account of human nature and humanity’s future.

But in the end, this is exactly what Kubrick desired from his masterpiece.

In 1968, he told a Playboy magazine interviewer: “You’re free to speculate as you wish about the philosophical and allegorical meaning of the film – and such speculation is one indication it has succeeded in gripping the audience at a deep level – but I don’t want to spell out a verbal road map for 2001 that every viewer will feel obligated to pursue or else fear he’s missed the point.”

And so, if its first 50 years are an indication, it appears that unlike Ulysses’ travels in the ancient Odysseywhich did finally conclude, the journey depicted in 2001: A Space Odysseywill continue as long as there are questioning humans on Earth, enticing planets to visit, and bright stars to light the sky.

If you have seen 2001: A Space Odysseywhat do you think of the film – is it optimistic about the future of humanity or a warning about the dangers of technology? What impact did it have on you as a viewer?

15 Facts About 2001You May Not Know

  • During the development of the movie, Kubrick and Clarke humorously referred to their project as How the Solar System Was Won, a play on the title of the 1962 western epic How the West Was Won.
  • The first working title of the film was Project: Space. Other temporary titles included Across the Sea of Stars, Universe, Tunnel to the Stars, Earth Escape, Jupiter Window, Farewell to Earth, Planetfall, andJourney Beyond the Stars.
  • Just before NASA’s Mariner 4spacecraft passed Mars in July 1965, a worried Kubrick attempted to take out an insurance policy with Lloyd’s of London – in case the actual discovery of extraterrestrial life ruined the plot of his movie.
  • Stanley Kubrick and lead actors Keir Dullea and Garyn Lockwood were all afraid of flying, with each traveling to England for the filming by ship.
  • Kubrick couldn’t come up with a way to depict his concept of how the film’s hero should make contact with extraterrestrial life, so he contacted noted author/astrophysicist Carl Sagan for help. Sagan said the best solution would be to suggest, rather than explicitly display, the alien beings.
  • Initially, for the opening scene with the apes, Kubrick auditioned actors and dancers to portray the chattering band. Finally, he decided to recruit 20 mimes for his apes. Two live chimpanzees were also used.
  • To portray as much reality as possible, Kubrick hired German-born designer Harry Lange, who had previously worked at NASA as the head of its futures projects section and Frederick Ordway, NASA’s former chief of space information systems and a scientist who helped develop the Saturn V rocket.
  • The scene where Bowman deactivates HAL, who is singing “Daisy Bell” was inspired by a visit Clarke made to Bell Labs in the early 60’s to see a demonstration of an IBM 704 computer singing the same song.
  • There has long been a belief that HAL is a sly reference to IBM, since each letter in the malevolent computer’s name is one alphabetical letter away from the letters in the computer company’s name.
  • HAL 9000 is often quoted as saying “Good morning, Dave,” but he never actually says that in the film.
  • Due to Kubrick’s perfectionism, 2001would up being $4.5 million over its original budget and was completed 16 months behind schedule.
  • Reactions to the premieres in Washington, D.C. and New York City were so negative that 241 people walked out of the New York showing, an exodus that reduced co-creator Clarke in tears.
  • Famous science fiction writers of the time were divided over the movie. Ray Bradbury and Lester Del Ray felt it lacked humanity, while Isaac Asimov and Samuel B. Delaney were greatly impressed.
  • Special photographic supervisor Douglas Trumball has said the total footage shot was about 200 times the length of the one-hour-and-42-minute film.
  • Some conspiracy theorists who believe the 1969 Apollo moon landing was faked contend that the footage of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin was actually directed by Kubrick using leftover filmed scenes from