Elton John has been one of the top selling musical acts in…well, history. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who hadn’t heard of the musician, who shot to stardom decades ago and has kept his career going with relative ease. In 1995, one of his most successful years, his partner, David Furnish, chronicled his various award ceremony appearances as well as the massive tour that he embarked on to promote his new album. Although now thirteen years old, the documentary is now available for the first time on DVD by way of Echo Bridge Home Entertainment.
This incredibly personal documentary offers an extraordinary insight into one of the world’s greatest musical talents and his larger than life lifestyle. For the first time Elton John gives a camera crew unprecedented access into his personal and professional lives. This remarkably brae and honest film gives the viewer a fascinating and touching look at the complex character of a modern day composer and performing artist.
Although I would be one of those individuals who heard his music, I honestly wasn’t a massive fan of Elton John and I would probably have extreme difficulty in actually naming any of his songs, but that’s more to do with my age than anything (the year this documentary took place I was only eight, not exactly the average Elton John’s fans age). That still didn’t keep me from being interested in this documentary, however, as Elton John has always been a musician I admired, even if it was from afar. His music was always moving and something that could generate a tear or two if you were in the right mood.
This documentary really was an enlightening experience, as we were able to see Elton John as he was both defensive about his career and sometime egotistical, whereas on other occasions he seemed to be completely humble. The two personalities are a stark contrast of one another and is no doubt a result of his tumultuous life and career, which this documentary only briefly gazes upon. There is plenty of personal insight from Elton as well as those around him and it’s these comments that really make the documentary worth watching.
It’s hard to dissect documentaries as they’re usually such personal events. Such is the case with Tantrums and Tiaras, which paints a sometimes difficult to watch portrait of the musician, yet it’s something that is entirely engaging as you following his career during 1995. Whether its interviews with his manager or his mother, there isn’t a single element of this documentary that doesn’t feel emotionally charged in some way; coupled with the concert footage, this is a really fascinating documentary that is engaging from beginning to end.
Overall fans of Elton John will find the documentary the most enlightening, but as only a very casual fan of his work, I still found it to be a very interesting study of the man, if only from a character study standpoint. Recommended.
This DVD release, dubbed “The Director’s Cut,” will hopefully offer fans a deeper glimpse into Elton John’s life than the original cut as it aired (I’m not sure where it aired). Apparently it saw a VHS release previously, so it isn’t an unseen version of the film, but tracking down a VHS of it has probably become rather difficult at this point. The set itself arrives in a standard DVD amaray case with disc art that mirrors the front cover. The video and audio for this film look about right considering it’s a homemade documentary from 1995, with VHS scan lines and distortion cropping up now and then; it’s certainly not a pretty looking documentary, but this isn’t exactly something you’re going to be watching for the video anyway.
Moving onto the extras we do get a few genuinely good pieces here. The first is a Commentary featuring Elton John and (Partner/Director) David Furnish, which his just about as invaluable to listen to as the documentary was to watch. The track is like a whole other documentary unto itself, with John and Furnish offering up plenty of insight into how the documentary came about and the reaction to it.
The other extras include an array of Deleted Scenes, which also include a selection of bloopers and interviews with Rod Stewart, Kylie Minogue, and fashion industry icons Mario Testino and Gianni Versace. There’s also a small blooper with Madonna that is rather humorous. A lot of the sequences only run a couple minutes and the lack of a play all feature is a tad bit annoying, but they’re worth checking out.
Like the documentary itself this release comes Recommended. It’s a bit pricey currently for a film that is of particularly bad visual quality, but the bonus commentary alone is worth the ticket of admission, especially if you’re a fan of Elton John.
Elton John: Tantrums and Tiaras – The Director’s Cut is now available on DVD.