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Nirvana: Unplugged In New York
Nirvana Unplugged In New York
Actors: Nirvana, David Grohl, Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic, Cris Kirkwood
Director: Beth McCarthy-Miller
Genres: Music Video & Concerts
NR     2007     1hr 42min

While the album of the same name made its first appearance in 1994, and went on to become Nirvana's second best selling CD of all time, nearly 15 years have passed since that memorable initial broadcast. Now, fans will fin...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Nirvana, David Grohl, Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic, Cris Kirkwood
Director: Beth McCarthy-Miller
Genres: Music Video & Concerts
Sub-Genres: Pop, Rock & Roll, DTS
Studio: Geffen Records
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 11/20/2007
Original Release Date: 01/01/2007
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2007
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 42min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 17
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: German, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese

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Movie Reviews

Essential, and not just for fans
Scott Bresinger | New York, USA | 12/03/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Thanks to the legal hijinks that dragged on long after Kurt Cobain's death, anything Nirvana-related was put on hold. After the legal resolution a couple of years ago, a 3-cd set of unreleased recordings saw the light of day (With The Lights Out), not to mention the obligatory "best of" (Nirvana). Now finally comes the somewhat legendary "MTV Unplugged" show. This set still draws some mixed reactions, even if most fans agree it's brilliant. Taped just months before Cobain's suicide, it's both startingly raw and disturbingly planned, with the band playing amongst candles and flowers (stargazer lilies, to be precise)--more than a few people noted it seemed like a funeral, and indeed that's the way Cobain intended it. Other details that stand out include the fact that while most of the band sit propped on wooden stools, Cobain sits in what appears to be a standard swiveling office chair ("I have very bad posture," indeed!) and the presence of ex-Germ (and future Foo Fighter) Pat Smear, who backs Cobain up as a second guitarist. Anyway, for all its emblamatic status, "Unplugged" also gave a somewhat false impression of the band, and Cobain in particular. Instead of the decidedly plugged in punk the band was known for, Cobain was transformed into a pained-looking, cardigan sweater wearing ghost warbling about how Jesus didn't want him for a sunbeam. Another MTV broadcast, taped just a few months before "Unplugged" the suitably-named "Live and Loud" show, could restore the balance somewhat, but of course it hasn't been officially released on DVD yet. Nevertheless, "Unplugged" retains an almost atavistic hold on the viewer, and is still one of the most intense musical performances ever broadcast on television.

Instead of a basic acoustic run-through of their hits, the band used the opportunity to put a new spin on some of their album tracks. The songs "Polly" and "Dumb" were pretty much unplugged before, but in the context of this show became brillianty-etched character studies. The main character, however, was always Cobain, and his songs constant references to death and alienation became all the more chilling here. "Unplugged" is, therefore, something of an audiovisual suicide note. No suicide note has been as exhilerating as this one, though. If you never believed in the concept of catharsis, this might chance your mind.

The band also used the show to highlight some of their own favorite music, and five of the songs here are covers, all of them given new life by their inclusion here. David Bowie's "The Man Who Sold the World" now seems like Cobain speaking from his grave, even if he wasn't dead yet. The tradional ballad "Jesus Doesn't Want Me for a Sunbeam" was performed by one of Cobain's favorite bands, The Vaselines, but this version was both tribute and personal statement. Three songs from Meat Puppets II, with Chris and Kurt Kirkwood from that band joining in, also seemed handpicked for their metaphorical content, most notably the damnation-themed "Lake of Fire."

What makes this DVD more than just a keepsake is the fact that the entire performance, complete with between song banter and mistakes, are included, as well as the original broadcast version. The uncut "Unplugged" also has 14 songs, compared with the broadcast version's 12. Of course, all the songs can be found on the CD version (MTV Unplugged in New York), but now it's available in full 5.1 glory (and done remarkably well, I might add). The long version also includes a very brief, abortive version of "Sweet Home Alabama," done as "the Brothers Meat" (as Cobain says) were setting up. While the retrospective documentary also included here is disapointinly light on information, it does include a short clip of Sonic Youth's Lee Renaldo, who was at the taping. So while this is pretty much essential for fans, even the curious will want to check this out. Hopefully, some of Nirvana's electric performances will be released soon, but this is still a unique performance that easily transcends the era when it was done."
PAC MAN | NEW YORK | 11/22/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Awesome. I am so impressed with this release. Not only is the sound and picture fantastic, but they have both the original mtv edit of the show and the unedited version of the show. They finally got it right!"
Timeless. Absolutely Timeless.
R. Theoret | 11/20/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Maybe Kurt was just at the right place at the right time. Maybe he was a sloppy guitar player. But he was a good song writer and he was honest. Call it Nirvana. That's what it is.

I was 12, maybe 13 when I was first truly starting to love this band. Something spoke to me. After seeing the Unplugged performance on Much Music I had to own it on video. Finally today, 13 years later, I am.

Nirvana unplugged was to me then what it is to me now. An honest performance of a band at its best that spoke to a generation and more.

Call Cobain what you will. He is the Elvis and The Beatles of a later generation.

And just so you know, there hasn't been an artist in rock as big since.

To finally see the entire concert uncut in the pleasure of my own home is a blessing. As a bonus, you can view the original aired version. The rehearsals offer insight into how the night was played out. See why Kurt was worried about screwing up 'The Man Who Sold The World', and why 'PennyRoyal Tea' was a solo performance. See for yourself why Nirvana Unplugged is a testament of time."
Thomas D. Ryan | New York | 01/30/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"It's been fifteen years since this show aired on MTV. Since then, the accompanying CD has become a staple with most fans of the band, while the show itself became a distant memory. On one hand, it just doesn't feel like fifteen years have passed since then; the music still sounds fresh, vital and contemporary. On the other hand, my son barely knew how to walk when this was filmed, and now he's applying for a driver's license. I guess perspective is everything. In its time, the most jarring aspect of this performance rested in how well these songs worked in an acoustic environment. Here was this intense, electrified, post-punk indie band playing at James Taylor volumes. Kurt Cobain remains seated throughout, while Dave Grohl plays his drums with a deft touch, using brushes. Against all expectations, the show rocked in ways that nobody could have predicted, and finally, the evidence is available on DVD for all to see.
So many of these songs are classics in their own right, but many have been surpassed by the specific versions featured in this program. "Jesus Doesn't Want Me for a Sunbeam," "The Man Who Sold the World," "All Apologies" and "Where Did You Sleep Last Night" represent some of the best music that our culture had to offer, and what held true in '93 still holds true today. This performance seemed simple and charming in its time, but has grown to represent so much more. Watching this, it is impossible to not mourn the loss of Kurt Cobain. What he could have achieved is incalculable, but there is so much evidence here pointing to the raw and crucial nature of his artistic creativity. We are so much worse off without him than we tend to acknowledge. Considering that he passed away within six months of this show, it now takes on the airs of a eulogy, an impression that is heightened by the candles and flowers that adorn the stage.
On a technical note, this DVD contains the unedited performance, including songs that did not appear on the original MTV broadcast. For purists and impatient types, it also contains the edited version as aired by MTV. The extra tracks and between-song banter only add to the casual brilliance of this performance, and the recording is so crystal clear that you can hear the texture of Grohl's brushes on the cymbals. As rock and roll films go, this is classic, like footage from Woodstock, or Altamont. It seemed so simple at the time, but nothing like it has appeared since then. An entire generation has now come of age that never had the opportunity to see Nirvana, and specifically this show. Now that I've watched it a few times, I know what I must do. I need to give this to my son. before he leaves for college.
A+ Tom Ryan"