Watch Bruce Springsteen: In His Own Words
- 1 hr 11 min
Bruce Springsteen: In His Own Words, released in 2016, is an intimate and revealing documentary that provides a rare glimpse into the life and work of legendary rockstar Bruce Springsteen. Directed by Swedish filmmaker Peter Isackson, the film is essentially a long-form interview with Springsteen, interspersed with archival footage and live performances, all of which serve to contextualize the complex persona and musical trajectory of The Boss.
As the title suggests, the film is predicated on Springsteen's own words, and as such, it is an unvarnished and honest exploration of his life, work, and artistic ethos. The film opens with footage of Springsteen performing the acoustic ballad "Thunder Road," which sets the tone for the rest of the film: a contemplative and deeply personal meditation on the enduring power of music and the human spirit.
From there, the film delves into Springsteen's early years, his humble beginnings in Freehold, New Jersey, and his upbringing in a working-class family. Springsteen recounts how he first picked up a guitar at age six, and how music became his salvation and his solace in a world that was often bleak and oppressive.
Throughout the film, Isackson smartly avoids hagiography, instead presenting Springsteen as a flawed and complicated figure, full of contradictions and conflicts. On the one hand, Springsteen is a man of the people, deeply committed to social justice and the plight of the underdog. On the other hand, he is a mercurial and sometimes difficult artist, prone to bouts of depression and self-doubt.
One of the most compelling aspects of the film is its exploration of the creative process behind Springsteen's music. He speaks at length about his songwriting, and how each of his albums was a conscious attempt to capture a particular mood or moment in time. From the autobiographical thrills of Born to Run to the melancholic introspection of Nebraska, Springsteen is upfront about the underlying themes and emotions that drove his work.
In addition to the interview footage, the film is peppered with live performances, both old and new. These are some of the film's most memorable moments, as they showcase the raw power and emotional resonance of Springsteen's music. Watching him perform "Born to Run" in front of a packed stadium, or sing "The River" in an intimate setting with just an acoustic guitar, is a visceral reminder of why he is one of the most beloved and enduring artists of our time.
Another highlight of the film is its exploration of Springsteen's personal life, both the highs and the lows. He speaks candidly about his failed first marriage, his eventual divorce, and how those experiences informed his songwriting. He also talks about finding love and stability with his current wife Patti Scialfa, who is herself an accomplished musician and songwriter.
Ultimately, Bruce Springsteen: In His Own Words is an absorbing and thoughtful meditation on the man behind the music. Isackson's direction is unobtrusive but effective, allowing Springsteen's words and performances to take center stage. The film is essential viewing for any fan of Springsteen's music, as it offers a deep and insightful look into the heart and soul of one of the most iconic musicians of our time.