Janis: Little Girl Blue
West of Memphis’ Amy Berg brings the tragic life of Janis Joplin to the big screen for the 59th London Film Festival in her new documentary, Janis: Little Girl Blue.
Described as the original Amy Winehouse, Janis Joplin went from being a small-town Texan girl to performing at Woodstock and across the world. She defied those who targeted her for her looks and her moral standings to become an internationally loved singer – Janis: Little Girl Blue aims to give depth to this icon.
Amy Berg has perfectly captured the true essence of Janis giving the audience an insight into her life from early childhood, through her troubled teen years, right up until her tragic death. The audience is taken on a journey through Janis’ life thanks to archive footage, interviews with those who encountered Janis and from Janis’ personal letters and photos. It is the readings of Janis’ life that really humanise her by making her seem less of an idol and more of a real person; it is this aspect of the documentary – the reality of Janis – that really hits home for the audience and stays with you long after leaving the cinema.
Rather than focusing on the tragedy in her life and her death, Amy Berg instead chooses to celebrate her life and all that she achieved in such a short space of time. There are clips after clips of Janis dancing, singing, basically doing what she loved and, combined with the voiceover from friends and family telling stories about the beloved singer, it makes for both a funny and heartbreaking piece.
That’s not to say that the documentary doesn’t cover Janis’ addiction problems but what it did well was shed light on what led to her continued substance abuse. Readings of her letters to friends and family along with photos that she held dear to her being shown really gives the audiences the chance to get inside her head, which really adds dimension to a documentary that could have been quite detached.
Janis: Little Girl Blue will leave you heavy-hearted after gaining an insight into the singer’s life behind closed doors but, at the same time, you will feel light-hearted after witnessing her onstage energy and hearing stories told by friends and family that present her as being a great friend.
Janis: Little Girl Blue is released in the UK on 5th February 2016. This is part of the Sonic competition in the 59th London Film Festival.
Watch the trailer for Janis: Little Girl Blue here: