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Leisurely, sprawling, and utterly engaging to the last minute, Amir Bar-Lev’s definitive documentary on psychedelic pioneers The Grateful Dead could take no less than four hours— about the length of one of the band’s concerts—to tell its story. Opening with the discovery of lost footage of affable leader Jerry Garcia from the Europe ‘72 tour (the film is full of unseen footage), filmmaker Bar-Lev takes a deep dive into the fertile grounds of its early ‘60s San Francisco emergence and continues all the way to its tumultuous final tours, diverting throughout into side trips that illuminate what made this uniquely American phenomenon such an enduring fascination for fans near and far. You don’t need to be a Dead fan to love this film, but it’s a sure bet that fans everywhere are going to absolutely love it.
“At three hours and 58 minutes, it has the sprawl and generosity of a good Dead show, yet there's nothing indulgent about it — it's an ardent piece of documentary classicism.” —Owen Gleiberman, Variety
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