The film opens with an eight-minute animation by Gary Guiterrez in which the skeleton who has become the Dead’s mascot and avatar trips through a bewildering succession of heavens and hells. The animation defines the Dead’s whacked-out tragic-sense-of-life, neither as profound as Dead Heads believe nor as banal as anybody else might take it to be. It is this one-man-gathers-what-the-other-man-spills mentality that informs the movie. The ignorant person who reviewed it for the Times complained that the film doesn’t probe, which it certainly doesn’t – it wouldn’t be a Dead film if it did. What it does is lay out enough information for anyone who is genuinely curious to find out what the Dead are really about. The ticket hassles and awkward bodies, the spaced-out gibberish and inspired nonsense, the music with all its highs and lows — they’re all here. In 50 years when people want to know what a rock concert was like, they’ll refer to this movie. But all they’ll find out is what a Dead concert was like. It’s not the same thing — not the same thing at all.
-Robert Christgau (Village Voice, 6/13/77)
Still from the Grateful Dead Movie animation sequence by Gary Guiterrez.
Zion and Donna
Six Phases of a Project:
4. Search for the guilty
5. Punishment of the innocent
6. Praise and honors for the non-participants
Photo Credits: Snooky Flowers