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Pete Seeger: The Power of Song

Exploring saintlike passion
By PEG ALOI  |  September 26, 2007
3.5 3.5 Stars
PETE SEEGER: Can Jim Brown’s documentary galvanize a cynical America?

This documentary by Jim Brown offers an inspiring portrait of America’s most enduring folk artist. Archival footage and photos chronicle Seeger’s decades of performance and activism, revealing the surprising depth of his influence. After he’d found pop stardom with the Weavers, Seeger’s involvement with leftist organizations got him blacklisted and banned from television for 17 years, until the Smothers Brothers broke the silence. Many colleagues and icons chime in — Dylan, Springsteen, Arlo Guthrie, and Natalie Maines among them. An unwitting pioneer of the back-to-the-earth movement, Seeger with his Luddite ways was outspoken in his opposition of folk’s electrification, but Brown does not explore that controversy, only Seeger’s saintlike passion. Still, if anything is capable of galvanizing a cynical American public in need of inspiration in these frustrating times, it is cinema, and though this work is surely destined for PBS, viewing it among live, like-minded humans just might make your week.
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