Monday, 8 October 2012

Raindance 2012: My Father And The Man In Black - The Story We Don't Know About Johnny Cash

It’s often those things that you have little or no expectations of that surprise you the most. At this years Raindance festival I desperately wanted to see Kill Me! In a schoolboy type huff, at discovering I could not get in, because all tickets were gone I took a ticket to the first thing I could see, in this case it turned out to be My Father And The Man In Black.

This almost docu-drama tells the story of the rise and fall of Johnny Cash through the eyes of his manager Saul Holiff. Not quite as conventional as it may sound, the story actually comes from Saul’s son Jonathon, who after the death of Saul discovers a lock-up filled with tape recordings, photographs and documents. 

My Father And The Man in black really would work well as a companion piece to Walk The Line, the views though similar, are fairly different and show a driving force by Saul to keep Johnny on the straight and narrow, and handle the various disasters Johnny put him in.

The story moves at a reasonably pace, and is told with a combination of stock footage, tape recordings, and some scenes acted out to provide a warmer feel to the piece. At first the documentary comes off as feeling very cheap, almost like a nasty afternoon TV show, but you soon get over that, and become compelled by the storytelling, and the delivery. 

To be completely honest, and apologies for making this piece quite so personal, but I know little of Johnny Cash, and have not even seen all of Walk The Line; but this documentary opened my eyes to the individual that was Johnny Cash, and it made me want to discover more.

Director Jonathon Holiff does an astounding job of delivering something that was obviously very personal, in that he grew up around Johnny Cash and his own father, but never really knew either of them. And while the story is personal, he makes it very much for you, the viewer. My Father And The Man In Black is a compelling watch, and one that ant Johnny Cash fan should undoubtedly see.

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