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Jonathan Demme Discusses His Editing Choices in ‘Neil Young Journeys’

Neil Young Jonathan Demme
Dimitrios Kambouris, Getty Images

Neil Young Journeys,’ a movie that combines footage from the legendary singer-songwriter’s concert at Toronto’s Massey Hall in May 2011 with Young’s road trip up to his hometown of Omemee, Ontario, is about to be released in select theaters nationwide. In a new interview, director Jonathan Demme discussed some of the choices he made in putting together the film.

Given that Omemee is the town referenced in Young’s ‘Helpless,’ its inclusion was necessary. However, Demme’s first cut featured the song at the beginning, but it eventually wound up playing over the end credits. “[A]s we tried to create an emotional implied narrative journey to the film, it just sort of made sense to scramble up the songs,” he told Ain’t It Cool News. “And then starting in Omemee, we have the little phrases and stuff, and “Helpless” was never able to work its way into the narrative after that. The good news was that it seemed like a lovely delivery point at the end.”

Demme also discovered that some of the performances, as good as they were, had to be left out because they didn’t work well with the story Demme was trying to tell, which originally displeased the film’s subject.

“Believe it or not, we have such a great ‘Cortez the Killer,’ and it’s not in the movie! Neil agrees with this. He goes, ‘Hey, you didn’t use ‘Cortez” I said, ‘No, and you know why? I feel like the whole film would’ve sunk beneath its power.’ And he said, ‘You’re right.’

The release schedule for ‘Neil Young Journeys’ can be found at Young’s website.

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