Semi-autobiographical film rocks music-movie world

a look back on 2000 cult classic

“Almost Famous,” a 2000 semi-autobiographical film,  takes place in the early 1970s and portrays the story of 15-year-old William Miller (Patrick Fugit). Miller works as a rock journalist for local underground papers, when one day, he gets asked to write a story on the up-and-coming band Stillwater for Rolling Stone magazine.

Writer, producer and director Cameron Crowe, was himself a teenager writer for Rolling Stone. The movie is based on his own experiences writing and touring with music acts such as The Allman Brothers, Led Zeppelin, The Eagles and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Crowe has shared that during this time that he fell in love, lost his virginity and met his heroes, which are all experiences that he shares through the protagonist throughout the movie.

“Almost Famous” combines a doomed dramatic love triangle, a coming-of-age tale and a giant rock concert. With all of these elements together, what could be more awesome?

Crowe’s use of color in the film helps set the scene and capture the mood of 1973 as a whole. The muted palette emphasizes Miller’s loss of innocence and does a fantastic job of showing the life of sex, drugs and rock and roll.

Every character in this movie is fantastically casted. Fugit as William portrays the “innocent and uncorrupted youth” extremely well. Kate Hudson plays the groupie, or “band aid,” Penny Lane, who also joins Still Water on tour. She brings a magical quality to the character. If it weren’t for her in-depth character development and flaws, she could be considered the epitome of the manic-pixie dream girl trope. However, Hudson handles the role as Penny gracefully and intriguingly.

William’s mother Elaine was played by Francis McDormand as the incredibly strict, but caring mom. Elaine is hilariously stern, stating that the Simon and Garfunkel’s music is only about “drugs and promiscuous sex.” Zooey Deschanel is cast, in one of her earliest movies, as William’s sister, Anita, the rebellious one in the family that leaves home at the start of the film in order to become a stewardess. She eventually reappears, and despite her small role, she dominates the screen.

The soundtrack to the movie is incredible. Most films spend around $1 million on all of the music, but because of all the different music, this soundtrack cost around $3 million. There are excellent songs in the film that really add to the movie itself. And because it tells the story of a band trying to make it big, the music really shows their influences of the time: Elton John, The Who, Joni Mitchell, Cat Stevens, and Led Zeppelin, for instance.

All the elements of “Almost Famous” work together to make the experience nostalgic, despite the fact that most of the viewers weren’t 15 in 1973. It’s an incredible film and definitely recommended to anybody and everybody.