Thursday, June 30, 2011

Moog - 2004

"Moog" - 2004
Dir. by Hans Fjellestad - 1 hr. 12 min.

Official Trailer

Structure, dammit!  It's almost more important to a documentary to have some sort of narrative arc to make sense of things than it is to fiction films.  Things happen in real life, but without any context or sense of progression, none of it ends up mattering.

"Moog" is about Robert Moog and his namesake, the Moog synthesizer.  You might not know the instrument by name, but if you've ever listened to prog rock of any kind (like ELO or Yes), you're certainly familiar with it's unique sound.  It's an early synthesizer (an analog one, at that), and has dozens of knobs that allow a musician to manipulate a sound in many different ways.  Mr. Moog began building theremins in his teens, which sparked his interest in creating electronic instruments, which ended up with the Moog.

The bulk of this documentary is comprised of contemporary interviews both solely with Moog, and between Moog and other people who were instrumental (ha!) in the history of the Moog.  There's also a decent amount of performance footage, both contemporary and archival, featuring musicians like Keith Emerson, Money Mark, and Mix Master Mike.  The film isn't as structured as it needs to be; I enjoy watching people talking about the things they're passionate about, but far too many details just fly by as asides in the midst of these conversations.  There's not much detail on how Mr. Moog made the leap from making theremins to creating an entirely new instrument, and what is there is sprinkled throughout in bits and pieces.  At another point, Keith Emerson mentions that one of the original Moogs cost as much as a house, which would have been an excellent point to provide some context on how the instrument fit into it's own time, but instead stands as a missed opportunity.  And the last portion of the film has Moog mentally wandering into metaphysical territories without much purpose.

If you're really fascinated by the Moog (or theremins, as there is some theremin performance pieces in the movie as well, including a song by Moog himself), this film will hold some interest.  But the frustrating lack of context and structure limit it's appeal to the hardcore.  And I have to admit, I found myself on the outside of that group when watching "Moog."

2.5 / 5 - NF Streaming

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