In many ways, the Aretha Franklin concert documentary Amazing Grace is a perfect film.
The decades-shelved video accompaniment to the artist’s 1972 best-selling gospel album of the same name sports the sharp combination of a variety of angles captured by Sydney Pollack’s on-site crew and tasteful, active edits made by Alan Elliott, whose own team synced the visuals with its long-unpaired audio and finally completed the project.
The constant motion across a runtime just shy of 90 minutes transforms the recording session in LA’s New Temple Missionary Baptist Church from a potentially esoteric, impenetrable religious genre exercise into an experience with the potential to resonate with anyone capable of being moved by great music.
Alongside her regular band, childhood friend and gospel legend Rev. James Cleveland, and the talented Southern California Community Choir, Franklin shares her gifts to the assembled faithful, whose emotional reactions further stir those of modern-day viewers, practically transporting us to the raucous Watts sanctuary.
Fortunately, today’s audiences at last have the chance to behold those two magnificent days of song and praise, and within the right communal movie theater atmosphere, perhaps a similar joyful vibe over shared passions will arise.
Grade: A. Rated G. Now playing at the Fine Arts Theatre