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Long Beach Opera film screening melds Grateful Dead, Oliver Sacks

May 22, 2012|By Chris Barton
  • Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, pictured here with Janis Joplin in a still from the documentary "Festival Express."
Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, pictured here with Janis Joplin in a still…

In a match made in what's surely somebody's idea of musical heaven, the Long Beach Opera will take a sidelong look toward the Grateful Dead with a Sunday screening of Jim Kohlberg's "The Music Never Stopped."

The film, which was an entry in the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, acts as a sort of stage-setter for the company's production of Michael Nyman's "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat," an opera based on the work of Dr. Oliver Sacks by the same name.

Also inspired by a case study by Sacks called "The Last Hippie,"  "The Music Never Stopped" is the story of a man who finds himself mentally stuck in the 1960s, a condition that results in his only being able to communicate while listening to the music of that era -- specifically his favorite band, the Grateful Dead.

While this sounds like something that could be a relatively common phenomenon in certain corners of Venice and perhaps Santa Monica, the film shines a light on the fascinating connection between music and the mind, which was also documented by Sacks in the 2008 book, "Musicophila: Tales of Music and the Brain."

In a review for The Times, Robert Abele wrote that the film starring Julia Ormond, J.K. Simmons and Lou Taylor Pucci "achieves an admirable poignancy about our emotional, healing relationship to the songs we love." As an added incentive for music fans, the film also features three previously unreleased tracks by the Grateful Dead, which may or may not induce neurological effects equivalent to a long, strange trip.

The Long Beach Opera's "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat" opens on June 16.

ALSO:

Movie Review: "The Music Never Stopped"

'The Music Never Stopped': On the cutting-room floor

The Dead's Mickey Hart translates the sound of the big bang

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