“Searching for Sugar Man” – Documentary Review


“Woke up this moming with an ache in my head

Splashed on my clothes as I spilled out of bed

Opened the window to listen to the news

But all I heard was the Establishment’s Blues.”        Rodriguez (This is Not a Song, It’s an Outburst: Or, The Establishment Blues)

 

The lyrics above echo how I might have felt in my heart, at some point or another, when life may have seemed off quilter and events out of my control, mostly in my teen years.  But who else can identify more with these sentiments then the people in a place where rights of an entire population of heavily majority black people were curtailed?  Black people in South Africa, under apartheid, suffered terribly and perhaps found solace in these haunting lyrics of Sixto Rodriguez.  The film is a documentary about this rock artist, but is very different from other music documentaries.

 

“I wonder how many times you been had

And I wonder how many dreams have gone bad”    Rodriguez (I Wonder)

 

This film is a beautiful, must-see, true story of one of the greatest ‘70s rock icon.  In the late 60s, two well regarded producers were touched by his haunting melodies, when they discovered him singing in a Detroit bar.  They recorded an album and believed that it would secure his place for all time in history, as one of the greatest rock artists.  But, that was not to be.  The album bombed and the singer disappeared into obscurity and might have remained there.  However, a bootleg copy of the album had made its way into South Africa and over the next couple of decades, unbeknownst to the artist himself, he had grown into a phenomenon, where, by some accounts, he became more popular than Elvis, among the rebellious, disenfranchised young people.

 

“While the Mafia provides your drugs,

your government will provide the shrugs,

and your national guard will supply the slugs,

so they sit all satisfied.”                                            Rodriguez (Most Disgusting Song)

 

While many myths surrounded him, no one knew the truth of what happened to the artist, in the mean time.  By some accounts, he had become a drug addict and by other accounts he had committed suicide.  “Searching for Sugar Man” by Malik Bendjelloul, is a story of the worldwide quest undertaken by two independent people to find out about this unknown artist and what had happened to him.  Myths meet the miracle, in the documentary, when those looking for Rodriguez realize that finding answers to these questions was much less an end, and more a beginning, of a brand new uplifting, heartwarming tale.  You have to see the movie to experience the electrifying inspiration, in this low key documentary.   I loved the documentary and give a rating of 5 on a 1-5 scale, with 5 being excellent.

 

And you claim you got something going

Something you call unique

But I’ve seen your self-pity showing

And the tears rolled down your cheeks”                   Rodriguez (Crucify your Mind).               

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  1. #1 by Pradeep on January 25, 2013 - 4:20 am

    I saw the documentary and you wrote a beautiful review….thanks.

  2. #2 by Beauty Along the Road on November 24, 2013 - 10:08 am

    I just saw the movie today. Rodriguez’s story is really miraculous. If Icomment even more, I’ll give the story away….

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