“AMAZ­ING GRACE”

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - On Tv -

Long be­fore it fi­nally reached theater screens, this doc­u­men­tary gen­er­ated many news sto­ries be­cause its sub­ject – the late mu­sic icon Aretha Franklin – filed law­suits to pre­vent its re­lease. She recorded her huge­selling al­bum “Amaz­ing Grace” over two nights of gospel con­certs at a church in the Watts sec­tion of Los An­ge­les in 1972, and later Os­car win­ner Syd­ney Pol­lack (“Out of Africa”) filmed the per­for­mances. As pow­er­ful as they were, with even Franklin say­ing she liked the footage, she didn’t want it re­leased ... re­port­edly fear­ing the pub­lic would re­act to her star power more than to the mean­ing of the mu­sic, af­ter some tech­ni­cal sna­fus had been cleared up by dig­i­tal means. Ul­ti­mately, one of the pro­duc­ers ap­pealed to Franklin’s es­tate af­ter her pass­ing, re­sult­ing in the pic­ture’s ex­hi­bi­tion al­most 50 years later. Se­lec­tions in­clude “How I Got Over” and “What a Friend We Have in Je­sus,” and now, the movie also serves as a re­flec­tive tes­ta­ment to one of the great­est voices in the his­tory of mu­sic. ★★★★ (G)

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