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Amazon takes a Long Strange Trip towards distributing Grateful Dead documentary

Photo: Paul Natkin/Getty Images

Four-hours might seem like a long running time for documentary about a rock band, unless that band is the Grateful Dead—unnecessarily drawn-out is kind of its brand. Jerry Garcia & Co. logged performances of “Darkstar” back in the early ‘70s that went on practically that long. With that in mind, Amazon Studios probably knew what it was doing when it picked up Long Strange Trip, the new film from documentarian Amir Bar-Lev (The Tillman Story)

“I first reached out to the Grateful Dead about this film back in 2003,” the filmmaker said via press release. “Since then, everyone who has come aboard has treated this project with a renegade spirit of cooperation and ingenuity worthy of the subject matter.”


One of those people on board the project is another filmmaker known for blurring the line between music and cinema. Martin Scorsese—who dabbled in rock documentary with The Last Waltz, No Direction Home: Bob Dylan, Shine A Light, and George Harrison: Living in the Material World—first became attached as executive producer in 2014.

“I’ve always admired the spirit and creativity of the Grateful Dead,” Scorsese said. “They are revolutionary artists who forever changed the world of touring and recording live music. They were a cultural force—a lifestyle, that continue to influence new generations of fans. This film will entertain and educate audiences about one of the most innovative and groundbreaking American bands of the 20th century.”

Interestingly, this isn’t the first time that Scorsese has worked on a Dead-related project. He served as an assistant director and co-editor for the Oscar-winning 1970 concert doc Woodstock, for which footage of the Grateful Dead was film but ultimately scrapped.

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