‘Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown’ is a captivating and entertaining look at the life of legendary singer James Brown. Through an interspersing of archived concert footage, old and new interviews, and a bit of textual narration this well-made documentary starts at the very beginning of Brown’s life and career and attempts to give viewers an understanding of the man and where he came from.
James Brown was a musical icon whose influence is too often overlooked today. This documentary is an ode to the man, but it also doesn’t sugarcoat his faults. Brown was a difficult person to work for, a perfectionist whose ideals and self-imposed goals often put him at odds with everyone else.
There is a lot more to this documentary than just the music of James Brown. It is a study of the era that he came up in, and it highlights and explores the questions of race and how it affected his career. The fifties, sixties, and seventies attitudes towards black musicians seem so foreign now, but this film illustrates vividly the different experiences that those musicians had compared with their white counterparts.
The footage and interviews employed throughout the documentary are fantastic. Not only does the viewer garner a thorough understanding of James Brown, but also they are treated to an impressive anthology of his greatest songs. This allows an appreciation of the music that drives the whole story. Rather than just talk about how influential Brown was or how popular, the film puts the music up front so its audience can simultaneously learn about the star while hearing the songs that made him famous.
‘Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown’ is a must watch documentary for fans of James Brown or just good music in general. It is well-made, informative, and entertaining. This is the type of documentary that all music legends deserve.