Life & Legacy of Spike Milligan
A UK comedy institution, Spike Milligan was a prolific and multi faceted
comic who's life is the subject of this documentary. Harvesting insights
from family, friends and co workers this film shows all the sides of
Spike Milligan from his early years through to his death, and beyond.
Spike's life is beautifully detailed in this Australian production and
makes for some very entertaining viewing, and is mandatory viewing for
fans of the great man's work.
Spike Milligan's influence on UK comedy is undoubtedly what he's most
famous for, his work with Harry Secombe and Peter Sellers in the Goon
Show was instrumental in developing the "British style" that would later
become more internationally famous through the works of the Monty Python
team. Its really incredible how a group of three men can be such an
institution in their own country yet, outside of it aren't nearly as
well known. The documentary traces Milligans roots back to his early
childhood and subsequent time in the military. From very early on it's
evident that he was a genuine "one off" and the phrase "broke the mould"
should have Spike Milligan as the absolute definition of the term.
The sadder and darker aspects of Spike's life is also explored, he's
unfortunately much remembered for his bouts of manic depression as much
as his comedy after his passing, which puts a definitely sad tinge on a
lot of his work. This film does play up the "tortured genius" aspect of
his life, but sadly, this is a true representation according to his
family and friends.
This subject is very well dealt with however, and is more humanistic in
its approach than making Spike out to be a martyr for manic depression,
which is usually how its portrayed. It was a problem that Milligan lived
with and a condition that also seemed to bring out the amazing
work he created during his life.
At one point the film seemed to be "playing sides" a bit in regards to
Spike's children and the problems involving his estate after his death,
but its a minor point, and for all intents and purposes generally
remains objective. Hearing about Spike's life from the people he shared
it with is always touching and always entertaining. There aren't a lot
of "tribute" style documentary films around and this one does
exceptionally well in tell the story of Spike Milligans life.
Video and Audio: As with a lot of these kind of productions, the quality
will vary from the quality of the archival footage used. All of which is
as good as could be expected. The interviews filmed for the production
vary from well produced studio quality to amateur "handy cam"
interviews. All of the interviews are about the content and not the
artistic flair which gives the film a "home made" feeling that gives the
viewer a intimate window into the lives of people Spike has touched. The
audio is of the same style, but manages to keep itself very well
balanced and delivers what it intends to.
Extras: There's a huge amount of extra material on the disc including
commentaries and archival footage not in the film. This provides an
exhaustive document of the production and goes to great lengths to cram
as much information on Spike Milligan as possible within the limitations
of the size of a dual layer DVD. To those looking for lots of his iconic
sketches and work with Goon Show you will be disappointed as there's not
a huge amount of it on here outside of the documentary footage, but
that's not the point of this documentary.
If you're a fan of UK comedy but never heard of Spike Milligan or only
have a passing knowledge of the man (as I did), I'd highly recommend
this great documentary. It gives you a very rare insight into the
personal and professional life of this iconic figure of 20th century
comedy and really shows how profound his influence still is in comedy
produced in the UK to this day.