Eric Clapton Life In 12 Bars - This Rock Movie Rocks
Dir: Lili Fifi Zanuck
Starring Eric Clapton, the Blues, some Beatles, Hendrix, Patti Boyd, BB King
Director Zanuck has known subject Clapton since she co-opted his song Tears In Heaven and hired him to score her directing debut Rush way back in 1991. So it’s fair to say she knows her subject well and that intimacy goes a long way in making Life In 12 Bars (no, not a reference to his drinking years) as rewarding as it is (even more so if you’re a big fan of the man and his music, naturally.)
Zanuck’s movie is a very by the numbers chronology of Clapton’s life, from cradle to early seventies, based around a lengthy interview with the man himself, and plenty of cracking archive footage. The interview is certainly candid with Clapton making no attempt to hide his bad behaviour of certain times, or heartfelt regret of others.
The real joy however is in the archive, moving through the guitar god’s early days with John Mayall, to The Yardbirds, hanging with Jimmy Paige, to Cream, to the famous romantic triangle between himself, Patti Boyd and George Harrison. As the years roll on, the stories become a tad grimmer, with Clapton falling foul of heroin and alcohol both. Indeed, some of the strongest material is culled from performances from the man’s drinking years, including his infamous – and inexplicable – racist rants, a sad sight to see but shown here warts and all.
It’s a lengthy film, as slow and deliberate in its pacing as he is sometimes in his playing. But it has more than enough of a tale to tell that even the non-fan will be engaged if not necessarily converted.
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