The Yellow Bittern DVD Review

Country – Ireland
Director – Alan Gilsenan
Runtime – 120 mins

So you’ve probably never heard of The Clancy Brothers but this group of Irish Folk singers were a sensation at one time; singer Liam Clancy was called ‘the best ballad singer I ever heard in my life’ by Bob Dylan and their records outsold The Beatles. This intimate documentary features interviews with surviving band member Liam along with archive footage of the band  making a thoroughly interesting and recommended watch. Alongside the old found footage most of the films new footage is static shots of Liam in an empty warehouse with his guitar for company. This creates a realistic but also subtly dark atmosphere to the film, echoing Liam’s stories of often lonely struggles.

As an interviewee Liam reveals a lot about himself and is a captivating and often comic story teller, narating tales of the bands heyday in New York but also stories about his youth, the Clancy family and his own personal relationships. So even for viewers who have never heard of The Clancy Brothers this documentary will still hold your attention as is follows Liam’s journey through life. For music fans this is a must watch as this thorough portrait of the bands struggle to stay famous and top the music scene is full of deep revelations about the industry. The performances of the woolly jumper clad band are extremely high quality and its easy to see why they were such popular performers, especially in one scene where band member Tommy Makem sings ‘The Cobbler’ to a completely enthralled audience.

As a documentary The Yellow Bittern is one of the most trueful tales you could watch. There’s no voiceover apart from Liam’s tales so there are no subtle suggestions to be made about Liam or the band and only occasionally will you even hear him asked a question as he seems happy simply to tell his tale without much prompting. The archive footage and photos are beautifully woven in between Liam’s interviews to create a chronological life story and the only real criticism of the film is that for viewers not familiar with the band or Irish folk the two hour running time does feel a little unneeded. Liam Clancy died last December but his memories are kept alive here for all to see and enjoy. The DVD comes in a double disc set with extra interviews and performances so is a must buy for any Clancy Brothers fans.

Buy The Yellow Bittern on DVD

Watch The Yellow Bittern Trailer

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