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2 reviews, 2 user ratings

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Nico Icon
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by Dr. Isaksson

"All Hail the Queen of Goth!"
4 stars

It was so interesting to discover a singer like 'Nico'. I remember I was about 20 years old and artists like 'Cocteau Twins' and 'Siouxsie and the Banshees' were getting heavy rotation on my CD player. I was in a constant state of discovering more and more amazing musical artists which were new to me but had been around for years. All of them great and intreguing in their own way and most of them fitting snugly under the 'Gothic Music' label. It was my exploration of 'Siouxsie and the Banshees' (who at the time released an album produced by John Cale) that led me to the discovery of Nico. Needless to say it was an amazing discovery and it is easy to lay claim that Nico is responsible, whether she knew it or not, for creating what is now known as Modern Gothic Music.

Director Suzanne Ofteringer's 1995 documentary Nico icon plays itself out at just over one hour so that in itself presents we the viewer with a huge problem. It's an impossible feat to fathom that a person this interesting and so full of artistic genius would fit inside an hour long chunk of film. In my humble opinion, you'd have to have at least double that length to even crack the surface here. But this documentary oddly made seven years after Nico's death, attempts to bring the viewer into the life story of the german chanteuse at a slightly breakneck speed. never really pausing to fully explain certain events or situations completely.

One huge problem is the flip flopping of Nico's life, starting out with her later, heroin addicted punk haze of the early 80's and then without any warning going back to her childhood traumas of World War II ravaged Berlin. I kept trying to take in all the live music clips and the tons of voice segments of the people who came in contact with Nico all the while trying to keep track of what phase of her life I was visiting. There are tons of amazing interviews here. Ranging from an Elecktra record executive to her son's grandmother and most interestingly the legendary producer of almost all her albums, The Velvet Underground's John Cale. But once again, unfortunately it is jammed together in a mixed up heap of sound clips and interview segments. Don't get me wrong, the effort alone is fascinating to the utmost degree. I only wish that the director took more time to lay all of the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that made up Nico's brilliant life. Then Nico Icon would have been an amazing feast for the eyes, ears and mind.

Nico was born in 1938 and grew up in the midst of war torn Berlin. Her agony and suffocating childhood fears were captured on all six of her brilliant and innovative studio albums. She wrote and sang about the darker things. Not for the sake of mere drama but to express her feelings on what she had been through and what she was going through. Her trademark harmonium sound is intstanly recognizable and her voice even more so. No one has ever sounded like Nico before or after. Her music is like nothing else I have heard. Most of the songs she wrote and performed were not exactly biographical in nature but every single one contained and element that was always fiercely her own. Every song, every note, every word was Nico. And you felt it, every drop of it. It is cryptic, it is brooding, it is hazy and beautiful, it is dynamic it is scary, it is frozen and it is boiling. She sang the songs that they don't play on the radio. And in quoting one of the lyrics to her songs she sums herself up best when she sang out the words,
"My heart is empty... But the songs I sing... Are filled with love for you..."

I think it's the record executive who worked at Elecktra during the days of the Doors who put it best when he simply said, "Nico has written some of the best songs of all time."

I couldn't agree more.

"Nico Icon" is a great film because somebody realized that this amazing artist was worthy of a documentary. It's a pity, however, that this film doesn't dig deep enough and completely enough in it's quest to explore the life of one of music's most amazingly original artists. **** 4 Stars

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originally posted: 11/10/04 19:58:06
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User Comments

1/24/05 Danny Fields In the movie, I say she was a very great songwriter 5 stars
6/15/04 tatum Fantastic, scary documentary 5 stars
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  08-Sep-1995 (NR)
  DVD: 14-Jan-1998



Directed by
  Susanne Ofteringer

Written by
  Susanne Ofteringer

  Ari Boulogne
  Jackson Browne
  John Cale
  Paul Morrissey

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