Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Danielson: A Family Movie

     This documentary explores the intriguing musical career of a family from New Jersey. I would be lying if I said this was not a hard documentary to sit through. The music produced by the family band is unlike anything I've ever heard before but not in a good way. I appreciated their motives of spreading their religion and Christian ideals through music, but I don't even know if they lyrics foster their beliefs because I was so distracted by the singing and the accompaniment. I have such mixed emotions about this band because I really believe in what they are doing and I think it's important to promote good values or to express who you are, but I don't feel like they are very successful in achieving this goal, at least not to me. When I can't understand what "Danielson" is trying to tell me because the falsetto and the combination of ten other instruments drowns out the message, the band isn't succeeding in what it set out to do. And that makes me sad. 
     The one thing I love about this documentary is that it really focuses on the growth and progression of this band. They never waver from what they set out to do in the world and I think it's great that they pursued what they believed to be their calling from God. I love the idea that it was a family goal and that the film took time to show the journey of this family and particularly Daniel, the one who made it all happen.
     About halfway through the film a conflict arises between Daniel and his  friend Sufjan Stevens who was at one time part of the Danielson band clan but then went on to do his own thing and became incredibly successful as a musician while Danielson kind of stayed under the radar and wasn't very well known. This could have been an opportunity for the makers of this film to exploit Daniel's personal struggles but they let him speak for himself and we realize that he is happy for Sufjan but he is also happy with himself and what he is doing and contributing to the world. I think it would have been pretty easy for the filmmakers to twist the facts around and make Daniel appear bitter but instead the stepped back and let the story unfold naturally and as it should. I think this is a really admirable quality in filmmakers and I hope it is one that I will come to cultivate.

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