Eric Clapton: A Life in 12 Bars
From Oscar winner Lili Fini Zanuck comes a brave and bold rock-documentary on legendary guitarist Eric Clapton, charting his early years as an outsider in Ripley, Surrey, to the present day, where we see a man at peace, recovering from the bruising battles of his past.
The title ostensibly promises to deliver a film that flows smoothly in the fashion of blues, but such a task is a forlorn hope; with so much to get through the work often stalls on one topic, then shifts quickly between others.
Initially the documentary plays out in a matter-of-fact, chronological manner, which may well frustrate the learned Clapton fan, but is informative nonetheless as interviews with the man himself, as well as former band members, chart the musician’s journey from The Roosters to his solo career, via The Yardbirds, John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, Cream, Blind Faith and Derek and the Dominos.
The film is about Clapton’s undying love for the blues, and the way the genre has made him the person he is, saving him at his lowest ebb. The guitarist never misses an opportunity to praise the artists that struck such indelible inspiration into his heart, and is equally frank when recalling the experiences that drove him to the melancholy so strong in blues music.
Indeed, A Life in 12 Bars is suffused with the travails of the outsider from Ripley, such was the importance of these trials to the man’s music. From his aching love for George Harrison’s (his best friend at the time) wife, Pattie Boyd, to the traumatising loss of his four-year-old son, via depression, alcoholism and drug abuse, Zanuck explores the anguish and “rejection” Clapton felt so deeply throughout his younger years, never forgetting the succour the blues gave him. Often, however, this unflinching address of his woes can detract from discovering more on his artistic process, as a number of albums are simply deemed unnecessary to discuss.
Judged solely as a music documentary, it’s entirely justifiable to say Eric Clapton: A Life in 12 Bars fails to deliver, but as a piece exploring the person behind the artist, rather than his work, the film is a revealing, candid presentation of tragedy, pain and recovery.
Eric Clapton: A Life in 12 Bars is released in selected cinemas on 12th January 2018.
Watch the trailer for Eric Clapton: A Life in 12 Bars here: