For the last few years, I have struggled with depression. Even with counselling and medication, it has often been difficult to find any sort of light in the darkness. The last twelve months have, unsurprisingly, worsened this condition for myself, and the countless others who are also suffering as either a direct or indirect result of the Covid-19 pandemic. My heart goes out to anyone who is struggling in any capacity – believe me, you are not alone.
During the various lockdowns, I have kept myself busy by escaping into cinema (from home, I might add). Whether with big-budget blockbusters or small, sensitive indies, the power of ‘the movies’ is unparalleled when it comes to taking our hands and pulling us away from the harsh realities of life, and into other worlds and stories. For some people, this same result may be derived from other arts – music, theatre, literature, etc. But for me, and presumably our readers, it has always been film.
I wanted to take a moment to share my response to one film that has been an invaluable ray of warmth and life-affirming hope in these difficult times, in the hope that it may help you find your way too.
Available now on digital, DVD and Blu-ray from Dogwoof, David Byrne’s American Utopia – directed by the legendary Spike Lee – is a concert film like no other. While I was initially reluctant that this film could knock the celebrated Talking Heads film Stop Making Sense off the pedestal of the greatest concert film of all time, it succeeds admirably though its infectious joie de vivre and spirit. Packed with joyous anthems performed flawlessly by David Byrne and his impeccable band, and shot beautifully by Lee, American Utopia is 105 minutes of bliss that combine the power of cinema, theatre and music resulting in a much-needed antidote for today’s world.
Whether you’re a David Byrne/Talking Heads fan or not, there is a great abundance of love in this film that I’m certain will speak to you even if you’ve never heard a single note of Byrne’s catalogue. I’ve shed many tears in the past twelve months, but those I shed while watching American Utopia were the first that were shed in joy. The film has given me hope. For myself, for the world, for all of us.
We are living in incredibly difficult times, and if you’re struggling in any capacity, please don’t suffer alone. There are always people you can talk to. But in the meantime, I implore you to take 105 minutes out of your schedule to sit down with David Byrne’s American Utopia, and escape your troubles – if only for a brief moment. You deserve it. It has given me a glimpse of a bright, hopeful future, and I want you to see it too.
David Byrne’s American Utopia is available now on digital, DVD and Blu-ray. See here for more information.
And if you are struggling, you’re not alone. See here for a list of services that can help you.