Life & Legacy of Spike Milligan DVD Review - www.impuslegamer.com -

Feature 8.5
Video 6.5
Audio 6.5
Special Features   8.0
Total 8.5
Distributor: Roadshow
Running Time:

Classification:
 PG
Reviewer:
Rick Thorpe

8.5


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.
 






 
 



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