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      Pete Seeger: The Power of Song

      PG Released Sep 14, 2007 1h 33m Documentary List
      95% Tomatometer 20 Reviews 92% Audience Score 500+ Ratings Bob Dylan, Arlo Guthrie, Bruce Springsteen, Natalie Maines and other music luminaries discuss the life and career of the singer-activist. Read More Read Less
      Pete Seeger: The Power of Song

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      Critics Consensus

      Pete Seeger: The Power of Song is both a tribute to a legendary singer and an informative account of the birth of American counterculture.

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      Critics Reviews

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      Peter Margasak Chicago Reader irector Jim Brown tells the story well even if he refuses to address any of the singer's missteps (such as becoming infuriated when Dylan first plugged in at the Newport Folk Festival). Jan 18, 2008 Full Review Owen Gleiberman Entertainment Weekly A stirring, revelatory film, which captures Seeger as the media-age Johnny Appleseed of folk. Rated: A Nov 7, 2007 Full Review Elizabeth Weitzman New York Daily News Fans like Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan express unvarnished awe, but it's the well-told arc of Seeger's life that makes the strongest impression, as director Jim Brown takes us from the highs to the lows and back up again. Rated: 3/4 Oct 26, 2007 Full Review John A. Nesbit Old School Reviews Joan Baez calls Pete a "saint," and Jim Brown's documentary makes a strong case for his canonization. Rated: A- Sep 7, 2008 Full Review Harvey S. Karten Compuserve A love letter to the singer. Rated: B+ Dec 26, 2007 Full Review Tony Medley Forget the controversial politics (that's what folk music is all about), this is a fascinating story with great music, despite the tedious last 15 minutes. Rated: 7/10 Nov 10, 2007 Full Review Read all reviews

      Audience Reviews

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      Audience Member Rated 4 out of 5 stars 02/25/23 Full Review Audience Member Awesome and inspiring movie. I loved it! Rated 5 out of 5 stars 02/06/23 Full Review Audience Member A Career Older Than Many Grandparents Today, George Takei posted the obituary of a man who had personally saved the farms of three Japanese families during World War II. The families were, of course, interned, and if there were no one to pay mortgages and property taxes, the families would lose the farm. It happened to a lot of families during the war. This man quit his job and moved into the barracks intended for migrant farm workers; he kept the farms going, paid the bills, and only kept half the profits despite the families' agreement that he could keep all of it. The other half, he gave to the families. So what does he have to do with Pete Seeger? For one thing, this was a man quietly doing what needed to be done instead of what was most convenient. For another, Seeger's wife, Toshi-Aline Ōta, is herself of Japanese descent. She and Seeger married in 1943. She was not interned at the time. I don't know why and would quite like to. Pete Seeger was born in 1919 to a musical family. His parents believed in spreading music to the masses, but it didn't take them long to discover that the masses had plenty of music of their own. The Seeger family got involved in folk music, and they have been ever since. Pete, what's more, got involved in the betterment of the masses beyond just sharing music. He became a Communist because he thought the Communists would do better for the people. (Well, in the '30s, that made a bit more sense, I suppose. A lot of people were fooled by Stalin, and US Communism was different.) Later, he got involved in the Civil Rights Movement, introducing "We Shall Overcome" to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As time passed, he became something of a poet laureate to the folk movement. He was blacklisted because of that past Communism, but he never entirely regretted it. He may have been the first to see the true junction of music and activism, and he helped others see it as well. I have never been hugely familiar with his work, to be honest. He was a guest on [i]Reading Rainbow[/i] once, performing his own song and story. However, about the only folk music we listened to when I was a kid was Peter, Paul, and Mary. Even that was primarily when they did PBS specials; I don't really remember just listening to their music. (Now that I come to think about it, I don't remember Mom just listening to music very often at all.) However, I'm quite aware that the music I came to listen to myself would not have existed as it did without Pete Seeger. It isn't just Peter, Paul, and Mary or Joan Baez, though they're the most noteworthy examples. It is also, among other random examples, the fact that David Bowie initially performed as a folk singer when he was first getting his start in music. It's the influence Bob Dylan had after himself having been inspired by Pete Seeger. It goes on like that, because music history tends to overlap in that fashion more than I think most people realize. I suppose one of the obvious problems with conveying such a rich and varied life as that of Pete Seeger in one brief documentary (only about an hour and a half) is that Seeger is also quite old. There is a lot of life both in what he did and how long he has lived; even a single decade of his life could easily take longer than this documentary provides. We only get a few minutes about his touring the world; the only person I can think of who has been to nearly as many countries is Michael Palin, and he got about six hours for a mere eighty days. We get ten or fifteen minutes of the honours he has gathered in recent years; about as long is dedicated to his time with The Weavers. There are many interviews with people he has known over the decades, including family members and students, but there is a great deal of life to be covered, and the film is too short. Of course, that's often a problem even with shorter, less crowded lives. For nearly ninety years, Pete Seeger has been singing to change the world. Before him, that seemed impossible. Even today, there aren't a lot of people who manage it. Yes, the world of music changes all the time; the influence of musicians isn't straightforward. There are plenty of fans of both who would be shocked to discover a trail leading from Pete Seeger to Daft Punk, but it's there if you know what to look for. However, despite only having met Dr. King twice, Pete Seeger did have influence on the history of the Civil Rights Movement. His fight to overturn his conviction for contempt of Congress helped shape legal history. He has fought to improve the environmental standards of the Hudson River. Even when people don't agree with him, they have a hard time ignoring him. Over many decades, he has had a unique role in transforming the face of the United States. However, this documentary is not a full portrayal of the power of the man, and not just because it never talks about his wife's experiences during World War II. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 02/12/23 Full Review Audience Member I really didn't know how influential and powerful Pete Seeger has been! Learning this history was wonderful! Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars 02/23/23 Full Review Audience Member Don't know about Pete Seeger? Yes you do-- you just don't know it. This guy wrote "Turn, Turn, Turn" for the Byrds and "If I Had a Hammer" for Peter, Paul and Mary. He led anti-war movements with his banjo. He was banned from TV and radio for 20 years by the House Un-American Committee for thinking the way he wanted to. His banjo says, "With this machine I surround hate and force it to surrender." This guy is a true American patriot. I admire him HUGELY. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 01/14/23 Full Review Audience Member Superb movie.. I cried. What a wonderful man, and what a wonderful contribution to history he's made, and so humbly. I was so impressed, I'd no real idea who he was, being English, and am so glad I took the time to watch this piece of American history you can all be proud of. What a beautiful man. This movie also goes well with Bound for Glory, the Woodie Guthrie movie, which is also 5 stars for me. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 01/28/23 Full Review Read all reviews
      Pete Seeger: The Power of Song

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      Cast & Crew

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      Movie Info

      Synopsis Bob Dylan, Arlo Guthrie, Bruce Springsteen, Natalie Maines and other music luminaries discuss the life and career of the singer-activist.
      Jim Brown
      Jim Brown, Michael Cohl, William Eigen
      Weinstein Co.
      PG (Some Mild Thematic Material)
      Original Language
      Release Date (Theaters)
      Sep 14, 2007, Limited
      Release Date (Streaming)
      Aug 26, 2015
      Box Office (Gross USA)
      1h 33m