No band is as ready for a retrospective as the Grateful Dead, and yet somehow the four-hour Long Strange Trip, which traces the Dead’s 50-year adventure, sets a new standard for the rockumentary genre. Documentarian Amir Bar-Lev (The Tillman Story) tapped into a killer stash of largely unseen footage, starting with high-schooler Jerry Garcia and trucking through the acid tests and the epic Egyptian shows and, finally, Garcia scuba diving — and an archive of live performances that alone would make for a hair-raising movie night.
But what sets this film apart is that it tells the band’s whole story — the deaths, the super-extended family, the parking-lot circus that swirled around them, their unwavering pursuit of fun — in ways and through characters that will surprise even grizzled Heads. Our advice: See it in the theater, then later gather some like-minded friends at whoever has the best-sounding big screen and the most lax house rules, and watch it again. Loud.