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The Ballad of Greenwich Village (Unrated)

Release Date: July 22nd, 2005 (NYC-Quad Cinema)
Directed by Karen Kramer.
BASIC PREMISE: A documentary about the history and the importance of Greenwich Village.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Greenwich Village is a very interesting place--both past and present. It is the birth of many independent artists and free-thinkers. Another part of its history is that it is where there was a lot of sexual freedom, particularly at Stonewall Inn, a bar that was a popular meeting place for gays and lesbians and would frequently have police raids. Anyone who wanted freedom could come to Greenwich Village and blend in perfectly. It was the land of the bohemians; the only outcasts were conformists. There are many interviews by famous people who recall how the Village impacted their lives--Woody Allen, Tim Robbin, and well as Norman Mailler all get a chance to talk about how much the Village means to them. Even the famous poet Maya Angelou talks about how the Village nurtured her love of art. The real conflict that comes up in this film is that NYU is currently buying many buildings in the area and thus destroying its image. There have been many protests to stop this destruction. It would have been more interesting if the Karen Kramer focused on this conflict or to one compelling one from the past, such as the movement of gay and lesbian rights after Stonewall. By no means does this lack of focus make the film confusing or boring, but it results in less surprises and slightly weakens the impact of its argument that the historical beauty of the Greenwich Village should continue to be cherished and preserved.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: A few of the interviews are moving, especially the one with Maya Angelou who is always eloquent with her words and speaks with her heart. Unfortunately, there is nothing that is truly insightful. However, it is uplifting to note Greenwich Village is still a conglomerate of many different people still today and that such free-thinkers as Norman Mailler have become recognized. It would be very sad to see Greenwich Village taken over by NYU or anyone else---it will always remain and integral part of New York City.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: The film meanders from interview to interview without enough focus or structure.


THE BOTTOM LINE: An informative documentary with lively and often moving interviews, but its lack of focus ultimately weakens its impact.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (2nd Run)

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