DEAD-ON ROCK DOC
By DAN AQUILANTE
April 27, 2001 --
END OF THE ROAD: THE FINAL TOUR
THE star of "The End of the Road," the late Jerry Garcia, never appears on
screen - the camera only enters a stadium concert once, and the Grateful
Dead isn't even on stage - yet this simple little documentary manages to
explain the band.
Without pandering, director Brent Meeske answers why the Dead survived the
'60s, why a grass-roots cult blossomed around these musicians and why
Deadhead culture crumbled in the end, battered by anarchist youth,
nitrous-oxide balloons and law enforcement trying to control the
Meeske did it through interviews, conducted outside the concerts, in
stadium parking lots across America. Because it was a tight community, his
access to the Deadhead nation gets better as they get to know him. The
result is a film that lumbers at the start and becomes much more
interesting as it progresses.
"The End" begins by revealing the notion of a communal Utopia with the
music as the common denominator. As that final '95 tour charges away from
the West Coast - unknowingly, toward the death of Garcia that August -
cracks in the only-in-America Deadhead culture become apparent.
While this is ultimately a tragic film, Meeske captures the joy in the
paradise these Deadheads lost. Jerry would have liked this movie.
Running time: 97 minutes. Not rated. Through May 3 at the Screening Room,
54 Varick St.
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