Hangin' With Gideon
Film Reviews 2015
(Photo copyright 2014 Subramanian)
"An Independent art house film based upon early events in the life of Gideon Smith, singer, songwriter, poet, life student and Zen master (Based upon the book by Gideon Smith: The Way of the outlaw spirit), this experimental film weaves together a collage of Zen and bad ass situations which are crucial to the creation of Gideon Smith - legend and warrior. Part experimental indie film and part found footage, this film attempts to develop a complex character and history by piecing together existential and gritty reality-based scenes - a unique blend indeed. Each scene is a recreation of crucial events in Gid's life, as played out by actors, collaborators and friends - each vignette presented here is a significant event in the formation of the mystical strong man and musician. What made Gideon the philosophical, down-to-earth, well loved and respected man so many love and admire? It isn't just his kick ass music, of which we are treated to throughout the short film, it is the impact that these life events had on Gideon that makes him what he is and why he came to mean so much to so many. The only downfall is the sound quality, especially in the first live gig scene and the editing could have been better executed to convey the same ideas and expectations, as some single focus shots may appear too long. The symbolism involved in setting the mood was well done, as parts of the film has little to no dialogue. In these moments we are left with the power of the nonverbal imagery that inspires a dialogue about life and death as it relates to the formation of music, words and one man's existential journey.
I very much enjoyed watching and listening to the conversation in the limo and where that led, and this scene had a very distinct Tarantino vibe. The overall acting was good, the imagery powerful and the tale one that needed to be told. How much can a single event impact someone? - like the death of a friend, strife and conflict, parties, rock clubs and the late nights? We often forget we are who we are because of the effect of crucial events and people in our lives. Each contributing to the whole. In this film we get a glimpse of the people and events that shaped Gideon Smith.
If you have read Gid's book and are expecting all of the writer's intricate nuance and insight, forget it. This is an experimental art house film and as a viewer it is up to us to piece together the story as told by the director through the symbolism of the film. However, that said the story does get told in small relevant pieces, many of them powerful, existential and symbolic and one scene in particular emotionally powerful (the death of a friend). I teared up here and it was a testament to the director's focus and intention that made this happen.
Overall a decent attempt at portraying the complicated and deep life of one of North Americas best loved and respected musicians. The making of the film itself is a testament to the respect so many have for Gideon Smith and is a microcosm of how well loved and respected he is, and how a man who may appear bad ass is actually a kind caring soul seeking and imparting truth through knowledge and experience, words and music." Deanna St. Croix, 6-14-15 Toronto ONT, via My City Magazine Charlotte, NC USA
“Billed as a movie that was discovered in the basement of an abandoned bar in Charlotte, N.C., The Warrior Spirit is a curious proposition. A hybrid of rock doc, found footage and indie film, it is essentially a series of loosely connected vignettes that pay tribute to rock outlaw Gideon Smith. A musician, poet and martial artist, Smith has been around for a while, fronting his band, The Dixie Damned and releasing a series of southern- fried, goth- flavored hard rock albums.
The Warrior Spirit ambles along amiably, inter- spacing scenes of Gideon in the studio, or in a bar with friends, with random scenes of him getting into street fights, seeing his doctor, meditating, getting interviewed and having a shamanic experience. Not all of it works (the lack of structure can be jarring to the casual viewer) and the low budget means that this is better seen as an indie experiment rather than an actual feature film, but the effect of having this group of likeable rock ‘n’ roll lifers sitting around, goofing and playing is life- affirming. The most affecting scene for me was a scene of friends jamming with acoustic guitars, that includes a version of Lay Me Down In Ecstasy which is even better than the studio version.
I don’t know whether The Warrior Spirit is too much of a cult item to appeal to a greater audience (we are already converts of the Church of Gid round these parts), but with any luck, it will introduce to more people the charm, grace and shamanic charisma of the man himself.” – Dimitrius Kontogiannis, Crows N Bones, UK 5-4-15
“When I first heard that a movie was being made about the legend that is Gideon Smith I thought "now this is fitting." I'd be hard-pressed to think of another personality in our world of heavy underground rock that would be better served by a biopic of his life. Part freedom biker, part shaman, part martial artist, part poet -- Gideon is a legend to those who've crossed his path. I've search in vain for over a year for a copy of his book, "The Way of the Outlaw Spirit" and all I've ever come across are books that have already sold for hundreds of dollars. I own every Gideon Smith and Dixie Damned CD there is and still sit here patiently waiting for the vinyl. I even have the Gideon Smith Tribute CD, where a legion of admiring bands pay tribute to the man, the myth, the legend . . .and the music.
So a movie seemed natural.
Highly respected producer and journalist Peter Gordon Donald (Ex-Fox Televisions Stations Productions, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, GQ, and a former manager of Travis Meeks/Days of the New) contacted Gideon with an idea to produce an independent movie about his life presented in the 'found footage' genre. Entitled 'Warrior Spirit: The Legend Of Gideon Smith' the film was completed in North Carolina in 2014. Found footage is an apt description as the film is a smattering of separate vignettes that weave back and forth encompassing many aspects of the life of the man. From martial arts sequences to "captured" moments with Gideon and his friends, the movie offers a glimpse -- just a glimpse into the life of one of rock's most complex individuals. There is a haunting nature to much of the film, much like Gideon's poetry, that reflects both light and dark. Glimpses of his shamanistic philosophy are given, his mantra, his soul. Somehow this all seems to perfectly capture the persona that Gideon has created.
"The Warrior Spirit: The Legend of Gideon Smith" presents in 'found footage' retrieved from archive film recently discovered in the basement of an abandoned Charlotte, N.C. bar. These powerful and fragmentary images reveal the true story behind the raw early years in the life of legendary southern rocker, Gideon Smith. Intercut with this newly discovered footage of Charlotte’s filthy dives, alcohol drenched recording studios, Dionysian shows, hidden occult backwoods, hard streets and underground haunts are new live performances on stage and in the recording studio. The amazing story of legendary southern rocker Gideon Smith is brought to life with authentic scenes from Gideon’s life, painstakingly recreated by actors, friends, collaborators and fellow musicians…. and of course, Gideon himself in the lead role, assuring authenticity and depth of characterization through the weight of his life experience and his determinedly heroic/anti-heroic way of perceiving the world. A mixture of real-life action, philosophical musings, gritty reality in all its ragged beauty, and full-on rocking,
And of course, no film about Gideon would be complete without the music, and "The Warrior Spirit" features live gigs that capture the essence of the music and the musical world. My highlight is the spontaneous, freeform jam from Murr House of Music in 2006 with Gideon sitting of the living room floor while his buddies strum away and the women on the couch sing accompaniment. Sublime.
My only quibble is that the sonic quality of the true live gigs is a bit rough, which hurts because I really want to hear the man in full flight. But still, the flavor comes through.
Gideon Smith has pioneered southern ‘stoner rock’ as a shaman, sage and veteran of the genre. The mosaic form of the film – with Gideon himself holding the pieces together – reveals much, yet still remains mysterious. "-Racer, Ripple Media USA