Dokumentarfilm mit Eric Clapton, Pattie Boyd,
George Harrison, Charlotte Martin u.a.
Chefkameramann: Will Pugh
Komposition der Originalmusik: Gustavo Santaolalla
Producer: Lili Fini Zanuck, Scooter Weintraub, Larry Yellen und John Battsek
Buch: Scooter Weintraub, Larry Yellen
Regie: Lili Fini Zanuck
USA 2017, 134 Min.
Originalversion mit Untertiteln
Unten: Clapton bei einem Konzert am 12.12.12 in New York
Dieser Dokumentarfilm gibt einen Einblick in Eric Claptons bewegte Lebensgeschichte - in die schwindelerregenden Höhen und Tiefen seines öffentlichen wie seines privaten Lebens. Durch den exklusiven, erstmaligen Zugriff auf Claptons umfangreiches persönliches Archivmaterial (einschließlich berühmter Performances, Backstage-Aufnahmen, Home Videos und privater Fotos) wird deutlich, wie viel Talent und Ehrgeiz in ihm stecken, und welche Dämonen ihn beinahe zerstört hätten.Eric Clapton ist am 30.3.1945 in Ripley, Borough of Guildford, geboren. Dreh- und Wendepunkt in seinem Leben war das Jahr 1991. Der tödliche Sturz seines vierjährigen Sohnes Conor aus dem Fenster eines New Yorker Wolkenkratzers führte den Musiker heraus aus der Sucht und wieder hinein in das Musik-Business.
Als einziger Musiker überhaupt ist er gleich viermal in der Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame vertreten, seit 2015 auch in der Blues Hall of Fame (als Mitglied der Bands The Yardbirds und Cream) und als Solist. Er hat 17 Grammys gewonnen und eine große Anzahl Trophäen. Auf der 2011 aktualisierten Liste der 100 Greatest Guitarists of all Time der Zeitschrift Rolling Stone findet er sich auf Platz zwei.
Der Titel des Films ist doppeldeutig: ”Bar” bedeutet im Englischen auch ”Takt”, und 12 Takte bilden die klassische Blues-Kadenz.
It's a sort of lopsided smile, almost like a child's-drawing version of what a grin is supposed to look like. Even more than the eyes and the jawline and that chin, which would later by framed by long Swingin' Sixties sideburns and covered by a ragged Seventies beard, it's the mouth of the kid in those early, black and white pictures that draws recognition. That's Eric Clapton's smile that the lad in the woolly jumper is sporting. And as he got older, even after he became famous and fans thought his playing was divine and he had permanently changed rock and roll, those happy expressions would be harder and harder to come by.
That, in essence, is the message of Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars, Lili Fini Zanuck's surprisingly satisfying sprint through the guitarist's life that constantly reminds you of the old chestnut about needing to have the blues in order to play the blues. And as everyone from jilted exes to Jimi Hendrix will tell you here, the man had enough bona fides in that department to be one of the best blues guitarists (Tall Pale Englishman Division) ever to grace a stage. Starting from those old snapshots of Li'l Eric, we gradually watch as that youngster from the snapshots grows into a sullen young man who, thanks to a British radio personality named Uncle Mac, discovers Muddy Waters and the romantic notion of ”one man with a guitar, against the world.”
Even if you know where things are headed - bonding with fellow postwar blues aficionados, tenures in small bands like the Roosters and big ones like the Yardbirds, John Mayall, ”Clapton Is God,” yadda yadda yadda - the doc unearths some wonderful tidbits to make its case and enshrine its subject. Having played with the Beatles during their 1964 Christmas show, he refers to the Fab Four as ”a bunch of wankers” ... though he liked George Harrison, whose All Things Must Pass gentleman-druid phase would play a big part in Clapton's middle act. Audio of Hendrix and Clapton hanging out in British clubs features Jimi bragging that he ”just kissed the fairest soul brother in England.” You see photos of the Cream guitarist, deep into his psychedelic fop look, impressing the veteran musicans on an Aretha Franklin session at Atlantic and hear unearthed testimony from Duane Allman that he and Clapton had started jamming around ”on a thing” - cue the legendary Derek and the Dominoes sessions. And we get a glimpse of the letter that a lovestruck Clapton wrote Patti Boyd, asking her to leave her husband and go away with him.
”It didn't work. It was all for nothing.” That's the man himself on Layla, the double-album plea to the object of his obsession; she loved the songs but loved her spouse even more. Zanuck connects that rejection to the guitarist's earlier dismissal from his long-absent mother during a visit with a new son in tow. The heartbreak also lays the groundwork for a lost decade of junkie reclusiveness and extraordinary public inebriation, which the movie treats in the same way that Clapton says he remembers it, i.e. a series of fragments and embarrassments. His heroin years are depicted via a series of stills with dates - Feb '71, Sep. '72, Jun. '73 - that suggests the slipped grasp of junkie time. His Eric the Courvoisier Drunk years are telegraphed via a montage of mortifying live footage, crowd taunting, racial epithet-spewing and MOR album covers. Slowhand gets sloppy. Sobriety happens. So does tragedy, and eventually a late-act stab at elder statesmanship and [gasp] happiness.
If the last 15 minutes or so seem like a slightly tepid victory lap, with tales of great Antigua rehab centers and B.B. King praising Clapton at length onstage, it's only because Life in 12 Bars has spent most of the previous two hours presenting the tragedies and setbacks in such a compelling, chronologically skewed order. As much a celebration of a great artist's life, it also feels like a turning of a page and then a firm closing of the book: Asked at the press conference whether his recent runs at Madison Square Garden and L.A.'s Forum were his last shows ever or if he'd just keep slogging it out, old-bluesman style, he answered, ”Both. Yeah, I'm quitting. I've got four more shows and then it's over ... and I've been saying that since I was 17. I love playing music, it's just a question of, 'Where's the venue?'” He said he liked the last part of the movie the best, because it featured him smiling the most. Then Clapton grinned. He looked a lot like that innocent kid again. [...]