American: The Bill Hicks Story Review

A man that by now really should need no introduction, Bill Hicks is brought back to life in this masterful piece on his life, his roots, his ambitions, his passions, his failures and ultimately a legacy left behind for the world to deal with before he passed away at 32.

Of course there will be many laughs along the way as we are treated to samples of just about every type of venue that he played and seeing just how good he was at an early age is impressive.

What sets this apart from traditional documentaries is the absence of talking heads. Very rarely do we just see someone sitting in a chair telling tales or answers questions. The dialogue driven story of Bill Hicks is fuelled by the unique animated style that brings to life photographs of Hicks as well as those around him. Time has obviously been spent on this visual style in order to bring something out of the ordinary to you.

The narrative itself is much more routine though starting at the beginning and finishing at the end – as it probably should be in this case as his the life of the comedian is broadened through his struggle to make it as an outspoken artist.

We will always have artists out there who leave our lives with their imprint firmly left behind them. Many of these people go long before their time and Bill Hicks is no exception. There is a reason that over 15 years later he is still making it to the high end of critics and fans lists. Thanks to America not really changing much for the better, his words are just as relevant now as they were then.

The documentary is worth the price tag alone, but we also get over 5 hours of extra material on this set. There are some deleted and alternate scenes from the feature, some very rare audio clips from Hicks’ diary and footage of the film doing the festival tour. The real treat is in the almost 3 hours of interview footage with family and friends. Thankfully it is spliced up in chronological order of relevance and acts as the “talking head” documentary that does not feature in the film. The extra wealth of knowledge on Hicks and on their experiences with him though is highly worth the watch.

American: The Bill Hicks Story out on DVD/Blu-Ray now.

Steven Hurst


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