A searing song cycle about two lovers going to pieces in the shadow of the Berlin Wall, Lou Reed's Berlin was greeted by a chorus of rebuke upon its release in 1973. Crushed, Reed and his producer, Bob Ezrin, left the record to gather dust in the archives. But a funny thing happened on the way to obscurity-Berlin was rediscovered, anointed a misunderstood masterpiece, added to the pantheon. And in 2006, artist and filmmaker Julian Schnabel took to the stage at St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn, New York, to introduce a concert 33 years in the making: Lou Reed's Berlin, played live for the first time. Filmed over the course of Reed's five-night stand at St. Ann's, Lou Reed's Berlin revels in the hypnotic majesty of these dark, orchestral songs, which include classics such as "How Do You Think It Feels" and "The Kids." Schnabel art-directed the performances, recruiting his Diving Bell and the Butterfly leading lady, Emmanuelle Seigner, to play the album's central character, Caroline, in the impressionistic stage projections filmed by his daughter, Lola. Now and again Schnabel strays to Seigner, letting the music play over scenes of Caroline to punctuate the album's narrative. But for the most part the film lingers on Reed, as coolly shamanistic a stage presence as ever, as he leads a backing band that includes Sharon Jones, Antony of Antony and the Johnsons, and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus. A landmark live event, Berlin gets the documentary it deserves: Lou Reed's Berlin instantly ranks as one of the greatest concert films ever shot.
Julian Schnabel (b. 1951, Brooklyn) received a BFA from the University of Houston and returned to New York in 1973 to participate in the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program. His first solo painting exhibition took place in 1979 at the Mary Boone Gallery in New York City. Since then, his work has been exhibited all over the world. In 1996, he wrote and directed the feature film Basquiat. His second film, Before Night Falls, won the Grand Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival in 2000 and earned Javier Bardem an Academy Award® nomination. Mr. Schnabel recently directed The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, earning him the award for best director at Cannes and an Academy Award® nomination for best director.