Let's Get Lost (DVD)
Docurama / 1988 / 119 mins / NR
Chet Baker may be one of the greatest jazz trumpeters and singers of all time. He looks like a very soft-spoken and deep-thinking Charles Bronson. This Oscar-nominated documentary focuses on interviews and raw footage of the man himself, as well as archived media from his past. It's entirely shot in black and white with much of his music used in the soundtrack. Let's Get Lost is an incredibly haunting and emotional picture especially considering that Chet soon died after filming at the age of 52.
Focusing mostly on his past and his final days, Chet has all the familiar traits of the best singers. He was a self-taught musician who didn't read music, had a rocky relationship with his family, womanized to the point of getting into big trouble, been in and out of jail and has a big drug addiction. At one point in an interview with his mother she admits that she was disappointed in him as a son. However, he's also had a very fruitful career in Italian movies and traveled all around Europe where he became a legend within the jazz circles. Once you see some of his early movie footage and listen to some of his classic renditions, you'll understand why he's been held up as one of the best of the genre.
In the interviews that were recorded in the late-80's, you can really see how Chet has grown both weary and fragile with age. From this footage you'd hardly figure him to be a manipulative and selfish man. You can see the decline over the years in his face that led to his final form. And yet he continued to work because music was clearly his gift and brought him great joy. In that sense, this is a bit of a somber portrait of a jazz great who seemed to fade despite his somewhat cheerful attitude around others (perhaps as a defense).
Director Bruce Weber leaves everything on the table as is in black and white. Most of the time his footage of Chet involves him just hanging out and talking with friends and colleagues. This allows us to see the legend in his natural state as he speaks with ease about how he feels, people he has met and just what he thinks of the world around him. It humanizes the man of many mistakes and great feats. One particular scene I loved was when Chet attends the Cannes and someone comments that many may never hear his voice again after this event. He simply laughs and says he's not dead yet.
Chet died the morning of May 13, 1988 after falling out a hotel window in Amsterdam. His legacy was so great that all the jazz clubs in Paris were silent that evening. One can't help but think about what crazy thoughts went through his heads as he dropped to his death. I hope that he at least had a fleeting moment to look back on his life in a manner similar to this film. Hopefully it brought one last smile to his old soul.
The quality here is decent given the source material. The film is presented in its 4:3 aspect ratio with a lot of grain that isn't just present in the archival footage from the 50's and 60's. I'm unsure how intentional this was since it was shot in black and white. Thankfully, the audio is presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital which truly enhances the beautiful melodies of Chet.
There are no actual extras on the disc, but the packaging does come with a special 40-page booklet that includes lots of photos and notes.
Let's Get Lost is both an emotional and powerful picture of the jazz legend Chet Baker, perfectly shot in a moody black and white. It puts all of Chet on display from his massive faults to his spectacular career. At the end of the day, I still admire the man if not for his genuine talent then for his perseverance for continuing to do what he loved. I cannot recommend this documentary enough for anybody with even a twinge of love for jazz in their heart.