Apr 30, 2009

Throw Down Your Heart (2008): B

Throw Down Your Heart knows it isn’t approaching any be-all end-alls within the documentary realm, and so it is a film infinitely better than it otherwise might be when it knowingly and unbegrudgingly hands itself over to the music of its chosen subjects. As it follows American banjo maestro Bela Fleck in his travels of Africa in a stated attempt to bring the instrument back to its homeland, this able and culturally immersive documentary focuses less on the political and social plights of the people and lands visited than it does the escape provided by musical culture and the history recorded in it, giving way to countless instrumental tangents shared between Fleck and the African masters he’s sought-out in hopes of recording an album. The musical sets indulged therein sometimes rival Jonathan Demme’s Neil Young: Heart of Gold for sheer infectiousness, montaged with an emphasis on musical rhythms over visual logistics. More so than many acts of soapbox grandstanding, it tells us about the worries, woes, and joys of (an)other people, collapsing borders with the ease of a hurricane’s gust.

1 comment:

  1. Megan Iskra6:55 PM

    The documentary "Throw Down Your Heart" gives us a glimpse of the lives of Africans, how important music is in Africa, and how it impacts their lives. Music has multiple purposes in their lives; it brings people together, it is their way of showing emotion, and it helps them get through their day, even while doing chores. When someone close passes away, the family buries that person outside of their home where they can visit them often. A common tradition is to put a rock on top of their grave to let the deceased person know that their family is thinking of them and wishing them well. Usually there is a particular place to put them if there is already an existing pile of rocks. They also sing to show emotion; one person in the documentary said "if someone loses someone, their crying is musical." In this documentary, Bela Fleck visited parts of Africa and made music with them. The African people always gave him a warm welcome to each place he went to. If they weren't making a documentary, they would not need a translator for the most part because their facial expressions said it all. They were happy and excited he took the time to visit them and for him to take such an interest in their music. Fleck always had his banjo with him, which people often forget that it originated in Africa.