Joni's Shadows and Light: the movie

I’ve been thinking about buying Joni Mitchell’s “Shadows and Light” on DVD. I’ve read reviews that say the concert footage is cut with scenes out of movies (Rebel Without a Cause amongst other things) presumably in an arguably misguided attempt to create an audiovisual masterpiece. Or something.

This rather puts me off. If I buy a concert movie, I want to see the concert.

On the other hand, Shadows and Light has long been a fave and I would like to see what I can.

Anyone have the movie who can tell me what sort of percentage of the concert has been covered over in this way?

If a significant proportion of, say, “Amelia” and “Pat’s solo” are covered over so that I can’t see them playing, the experience is just going to cause me to want to claw my own brain out with sheer frustration and I’m not going to do that to myself.

Anyone know?

That bad, huh?

Well, Princhester, I have two pieces of bad news for you.

One: there is a lot of egregious cutaway footage indeed.

Two: you’re going to have to get it anyway.

I don’t own the DVD and have only seen it once, so I can’t recall if Amelia or Pat’s Solo are particularly impacted. I do recall that the visuals for Coyote involve a lot of footage of . . . wait for it . . . coyotes. And one other tune is almost completely represented with footage of Mitchell ice-skating. It really is quite annoying. Percentagewise . . . it’s really hard to remember, but I’d say that 10 to 20 percent of the live footage has been replaced by extraneous video tomfoolery. Anyone with a more informed estimate is welcome to contradict me.

But the remaining footage is too compelling to pass up. First for Mitchell herself, but also for the amazing all-star band she has. To see these guys just as they are blossoming into greatness . . . Pat Metheny, Lyle Mays, Michael Brecker! And of course, the great Jaco Pastorius just as he was hitting his stride and well before substance abuse and mental illness dragged him down. Excoriate the filmmaker’s vision if you must (and I think you must), but you really should see this.

Thanks for starting this thread. I almost started one on this very topic a couple days ago, but I figured no one would care.

Dammit dammit dammit. Thanks Hoops. I was afraid someone’d say that. This now means that like you say I’m going to have to buy it, and then I’m going to spend at least 10 to 20 percent of the movie crouched on the floor with my jacket pulled over my head (a la John Cleese) going: “Gnnnnrrrrrnnnhyhhhhhhh, nooooooooooohhhhhhhhhh” while silent tears of frustration cascade down my face and I tear at my few remaining head hairs.


I wonder if the whole thing (cut concert footage included) is lying in some vault somewhere, waiting for Joni to die so it can be released? She’s older than me, and she smokes. Must be some chance I’ll outlive her…