Description from TIFF 2010 catalog by Thom Powers:
The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town takes us into the studio with Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band for the recording of their pivotal album. Grammy Award&”174; and Emmy Award&”174;-winning filmmaker Thom Zimny has gained access to extensive, never-before-seen footage shot between 1976 and 1978, capturing home rehearsals and recording sessions that allow us to hear songs in their earliest stages. For those uninitiated to Springsteen, the film unlocks the door to a rich musical world. For fans, it’s a trip to paradise.
New interviews with Springsteen and the band &”8211; who all recall the period in rich, vivid detail &”8211; bring fresh perspective to the archival footage. Prior to recording Darkness, the band had experienced a worldwide hit with the album Born to Run, which was musically influenced by Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound production technique. Everyone, including fellow band members, expected Springsteen to follow that seminal celebration of youth with something similar, but Springsteen became enmeshed in a lawsuit with former management that halted recording for two years. By the time the case was settled, Springsteen &”8211; now teamed with new producer Jon Landau &”8211; had found fresh storytelling inspiration in country and western icons like Hank Williams, while also gravitating towards the new, stripped-down sounds of punk. In songs like “Factory” and “Racing in the Street,” he explored new themes about reckoning with the adult world and the compromises it demanded.
For the Darkness album, Springsteen filled notebooks with lyrics for more than seventy songs. The period was so fertile that his unused ideas turned into winning singles for Patti Smith (“Because the Night”) and The Pointer Sisters (“Fire”).
Centering on Springsteen’s creativity and the challenges that he and the band overcame, this rock and roll drama reveals the camaraderie of a band wholly dedicated to their music. Cinematic imagery has always been prominent in Springsteen’s songs; now he comes full circle as the centrepiece of this enormously enjoyable film.
About the director:
Thom Zimny is a Grammy&”174; and Emmy&”174; Award-winning filmmaker who has been a visual collaborator and personal archivist with Bruce Springsteen for ten years. Zimny first teamed with Springsteen in 2001 for the Live in New York City HBO special and DVD, which earned him an Emmy Award. Zimny subsequently earned Grammy Awards for best long form music video as the producer and director of the feature documentary Wings for Wheels: The Making of “Born To Run” (05). He directed and edited the music video for the Golden Globe-winning song The Wrestler and directed the documentary Working On A Dream: A Superbowl Journal. The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town (10) is his latest feature documentary.