Although Amir Bar-Lev’s newest film will be available to stream on Amazon, you should take the chance to live (or relive) a part of the Grateful Dead experience this week.
Screenings of “Long Strange Trip: The Untold Story of the Grateful Dead are being held in 50 cities on May 25, before you can stream or buy it on June 2. The documentary is a four year project for director Bar-Lev, but he’s been waiting to make it for 14 years. And yes, he is a proud Deadhead.
“This is my dream project,” says Bar-Lev “There were a bunch of times where we thought it wouldn’t happen. We have been painstakingly crafting it. I think I made it for non-fans because I feel like Deadheads are horrible at explaining what is so interesting about the band.”
Bar-Lev discovered his love for the Dead as a teenager. For him, that was perfect timing, and he thinks today’s teenagers are deprived of a similar experience.
“I think Grateful Dead concerts were a place where a lot of our culture learned to feel free of caring about what other people think,” he says. “I learned how to try and live in the present moment. Kids today are constantly thinking about their image and the construction of a story of their lives through social media. Those are things that are directly in opposition of having a good time.”
The Grateful Dead are known for establishing what Psychedelia meant for music during the ‘60s and ‘70s. Their concerts were known for being authentic and organic experiences rather than following the more typical concert format. Their iconic jam band style meant they were always improvising and letting the music drive them, instead of them driving the music. The film features older footage of the band’s shows. Bar-Lev and his crew were also given access to the Grateful Dead music vault to curate and edit a soundtrack that will put the theater experience on a whole other level.
“We created a surround sound experience that’s 3-D,” he says. “When you’re in the theater, it’s like you’re inside the music.”
In addition to technical prowess, taking advantage of a theater screening honors the Dead’s main focus in their fan base: community.
“The movie itself is about being with other people and how important that is for us- as human beings,” says Bar-Lev.
If you go:
“Long Strange Trip” at the Prince Theater
Thursday May 25, 7 p.m.
1412 Chestnut St.