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Kraftwerk and the Electronic Revolution -
A Documentary Film
DVD Review

(Sexy Intellectual)
3 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Sept. 18, 2008

Review by Andy Argyrakis

Ask everyone from David Bowie to Brian Eno to Siouxsie Sioux to Radiohead what Kraftwerk means to them and they'll likely credit the German troupe as electronic rock royalty. Outside of shaping the entire synth-driven alternative revolution, the group is one of the genre's most revered through today and is a textbook example of creativity colliding with technology. Chronicling that group's rise to fame (and the movement in general) is certainly no easy task, but this exhaustive (albeit occasionally exhausting) three hour documentary paints an extremely vivid picture.

The program begins discussing the 1960s/ early '70s German rock n' roll landscape, carefully tracing the family tree of this revolutionary troupe and several of its like-minded contemporaries. Every little tidbit of the scene is analyzed, from recording methods in the studio to impact observations by a series of industry insiders, along with interviews from those directly involved with Kraftwerk's artistic process (with former members Karl Bartos and Klaus Rder serving as the most credible). With three hours running time, literally every subject imaginable is clearly covered, along with the occasional song snippet, performances and rare photographs.

Despite all the strengths this documentary possesses, it's impossible to overlook what's missing, starting with the fact that none of the current members are interviewed, most glaringly, co-founding multi-instrumentalists Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider. Of course, their lack of participation is to be expected considering the disclaimer on the back that says "this film is not authorized by Kraftwerk," though it's such a shame that producers came so close to hitting the mark but couldn't quite score the full band's blessing. That being said, this DVD is best suited for those who want an analytical (rather than personal) overview of Kraftwerk and Germany's other electronic exports, though anyone preferring performances are best turning to the group's official 2005 release Minimum-Maximum (Astralwerks).

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