Morphine Documentary Journey Of Dreams Offers More, Not Better

by Pete Crigler

morphine_journeydoc_300Morphine: Journey of Dreams documents the career of Morphine, the acclaimed “low-rock” trio of saxophone, bass and drums that blew up in the indie alt-rock scene of the ’90s. The band—drummers Jerome Deupree and Billy Conway, sax man extraordinaire Dana Colley and bassist/singer/songwriter Mark Sandman—released four critically touted albums before Sandman tragically died of a heart attack on stage in Rome in the summer of 1999. The film follows the band’s journey from Boston bar band to indie rock darlings to the aftermath of picking up the pieces following Sandman’s death.

The film doesn’t really offer much that wasn’t previously known to Morphine fans and focuses more on the band as a whole than it does on their dynamic leader. There was previously another doc that focused solely on Sandman’s story that I feel told the story better (Cure For Pain: The Mark Sandman Story). It’s a bit hard to find but it’s definitely worth the effort. The one thing I took from the film was how difficult it was for the band to transition from indie to the major label world when they signed to Dreamworks. The recording of the band’s final album The Night was fraught with tension and uncertainty as how to proceed. That’s the most fascinating part of the film and you get a real sense of the drama that was going on behind the scenes.

Interviews with the band members, manager and close friends help to bring the band’s story a bit closer to definitive. But in the end, this was just a decent, average film that doesn’t manage to convey how amazing this band really was. If you are a diehard fan of Morphine and anything that Mark Sandman did in his lifetime, then this film will definitely suit you. Otherwise, it’s just okay, nothing really to run home and tell the kids about.

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