American Pop, from Jeff Watson

January 7, 2009 |

 I started out writing a review of American Pop, a 1981 movie, but was at a loss for words. This animated tale of four generations of a Jewish American family set to the popular music of the day just defies description. A heart rendering story line set to the best popular music America has to offer is just about all I can say to describe this wonderful movie. The creator, Ralph Bakshi, managed to seamlessly weave the popular music of the day into a storyline that tells a story about every family that emigrated to this great country. It combines triumph, tragedy, hope and despair all set to an amazing musical sound track.

Starting out with a traditional Aneinu in Russia, progressing through ragtime music, to the music of the 1930s and the big bands of the 40s, it continues through the music of Brubeck in the 50s, the 60s music of Hendrix, The Doors, and Big Brother and the Holding Company. The movie artfully segues into the late 1970s with the music of Lou Reed and the first elements of the punk scene. Since the movie is about a family and it's complex relationship with music, this is a must see for everyone. Very few movies in my life have affected me as deeply as American Pop. Although the premise of the movie is very straightforward, it is a very complex piece with numerous twists and turns, and layers upon layers just waiting to be peeled back. Much of the movie is sad, depicting the struggle of a Jewish American family trying to survive in America. Without giving out a spoiler, the movie has a triumphant ending. Here's a link to the trailer.





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