Searching for Sugar Man (2012) Directed by Malik Bendjelloul. Starring: Rodriguez and Malik Bendjelloul. IMDB says: ”Two South Africans set out to discover what happened to their unlikely musical hero, the mysterious 1970s rock ‘n’ roller, Rodriguez.”
Searching For Sugar Man takes you on an incredible journey from Detroit to South Africa and back in search of one of the greatest voices in American pop music. His name was Rodriguez. He grew up in Detroit and in the early seventies, he recorded two albums that hardly anyone purchased and then he disappeared. Some say he shot himself on stage. Others say he lit himself on fire. Many attested that he died of a drug overdose in prison. This documentary, told through an incredible story, searches for the truth about Rodriguez; who he was, where he went, and what happened. The film follows a South African record storeowner who happened upon a Rodriguez bootleg in the seventies. During Apartheid, the government in South Africa outlawed a lot of music so the album was passed around in secret and copies were made. His album was used as the soundtrack for the revolution and Rodriguez slowly became bigger than Elvis. The record storeowner was curious about who this man was, so he begins his search for information on this man. He has no idea what or who he is about to uncover.
It’s truly an incredible story that follows the human spirit in search of the unknown as well as the power of music and what it can do for not only one person, but an entire nation. The film is flooded with the music of Rodriguez and if you are a fan of Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, or Leonard Cohen, you will fall in love with its intrigue, gorgeous poetry, and entrancing guitar. Even if you aren’t a fan of Dylan, Morrison, or Cohen, any music lover or fan will be enthralled with the story. The documentary shows a lot of footage about South Africa, but it’s the footage of Detroit that stands out. It paints the picture of a town slowly dying as you look out at abandoned storefronts on a cold winter night. Scenes like that and shots of the Detroit skyline are reminiscent of Detropia (an amazing documentary on Detroit.) As I left the theatre, I instantly downloaded BOTH of Rodriguez’s albums and I haven’t stopped listening to them. Seek this documentary out!
FTS SCORE: 84%