What's your favorite film? Is there a movie that changed your life? Send us an essay of 500 words, give or take, about that film you can't forget — classic or contemporary — and we'll consider it for publication in these pages. In addition to your short essay, send your name, occupation, hometown, phone number, jpeg headshot and e-mail address to editor@AFI.com. We reserve the right to edit for length and clarity.
ANVIL: THE STORY OF ANVIL (2008)
By Lucy Broadbent
Lucy Broadbent is a co-owner of uncommonlibrary.com, which is a music library, offering music for film and television. She is also a freelance journalist who writes for The London Times and Sunday Telegraph.
I am not a headbanger. Never have been. Give me Chopin any day. So why is a story about a couple of aging Canadian headbangers top of my all-time favorite movie list? Because this is a film that has nothing to do with thumping heads, and everything to do with heart.
Steve 'Lips' Kudlow and Robb Reiner have that old man combo – long but thinning hair. But it wasn’t always this way. When they were 14, they were rockers with full heads of hair who signed a pledge to make rock ‘n' roll until the end.
"ANVIL: THE STORY OF ANVIL" is a documentary about hope, persistence and friendship. "How many bands stay together for 30 years?" asks Slash of Guns N' Roses, in a backstage interview. "You've got the Stones, the Who, U2 — and Anvil."
Anvil had a measure of success during the ’80s. The album “Metal on Metal” was apparently a big hit in that world of shrill guitars and loud drums. But bad management or bad luck dumped them quickly into obscurity. Where other metal bands prospered, Anvil floundered.
Cut to 2005, and Sacha Gervasi, the teenager who had been a roadie and their number one fan on tour with them during the ’80s, gets in contact. Lips, now 51, runs a food delivery truck in suburban Canada. Reiner, also 51, has done some demolition work – but Anvil is still alive. They are still writing music, still chasing the dream.
Gervasi can barely believe it. Now a film director living in Hollywood, he decides to follow them, etc.
"Everything on the tour went drastically wrong. But at least there was a tour for it to go wrong on," says Lips, ever the optimist.
This is a film that makes you laugh, makes you weep. It has been compared to THIS IS SPINAL TAP (1984) many times. But the most extraordinary part of the film is, it’s real. You couldn’t script it, if you tried.
The London Times has called it “Possibly the greatest film yet made about rock and roll.” And amongst much critical acclaim, it also won an Emmy® and Best Documentary at the 2010 Independent Spirit Awards.
The music score of a film is always important to me. And this one is sublime. I am not equipped to judge the heavy metal moments — but between the guitar twangs is a score by composer David Norland, that brings nothing but emotional brilliance. Listen to the final scenes, where the band is invited to give a concert in Japan. The music takes us off in a direction that you could never imagine possible in a film about metal. It is ambient, gorgeous, rich.
Since the release of the film, the band has received a second wave of popularity and success. Whatever you think about heavy metal, the characters in this film are so adorable, it’s impossible to do anything other than wish them well.