An accurate, insightful story about one of the most memorable bands in the history of music.
Fifty years... that's half a century, five decades, 18,250 days. It's also how long Germany's Scorpions -- Klaus Meine (vocals), Rudolf Schenker (guitars), Matthias Jabs (guitars), James Kottak (drums) and Paweł Mąciwoda (bass) -- have been rocking the world over with their unique brand of Hard Rock / Heavy Metal, and they're still not done. It's almost inconceivable to think about how any band -- Rock or otherwise -- could keep the engine running for that length of time. Very few, and I mean VERY few bands have stood the test of time. The only others that come to mind are The Rolling Stones and The Moody Blues. For the Scorpions, reaching such a milestone just proves how good they are, and how their popularity still has a stronghold on fans worldwide in 2015.
If you are indeed a Scorpions fan, then you've probably seen the band's World Wide Live (1985) and To Russia With Love and Other Savage Amusements (1989) documentaries, which featured on and off-stage footage from the Love at First Sting and Savage Amusement tours, respectively, along with music videos, etc. While both provided great visuals and interesting behind-the-scenes dialogue, they didn't showcase a broad spectrum of the band's history as a whole. Now, for the first time ever in their existence, Scorpions have released a full-length documentary film about their story, titled Scorpions: Forever and a Day.
Directed by German film maker Katja Von Garnier and produced by DOKFilm and Arte in collaboration with Deutsche Welle, nordmedia and Arte, Scorpions: Forever and a Day delivers a complete, career-spanning inside look at the band's story from their inception to the present day. Shooting began in 2011 during what was supposed to be the band's three-year "farewell" world tour, with film crews capturing footage of live performances and behind-the-scenes interviews with the band members (and some of their family members too), all in stunning high definition. The 100-minute film also includes a lot of previously unreleased footage taken from the band's personal video vault -- showing scenes from their early German roots in the late '60s and '70s -- plus several outtakes from the two aforementioned documentaries. Another bonus is the inclusion of interviews with people such as Kiss frontman Paul Stanley, former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev, former Scorpions drummer Herman Rarebell, MSG guitarist Michael Schenker (Rudolf's younger brother and former Scorpions member), producer Dieter Dirks, Dokken frontman Don Dokken and many others.
The film also shows another side to Scorpions, one that we don't really get to see: their human side. It's important to keep in mind that Rock stars are not robots; they're not gods, nor are they superheroes. They're human beings, just like you and I (no pun intended). Having said that, there are some scenes in the film that really touch on the harder aspects of being in a world famous Rock band. In one part, Paweł Mąciwoda describes how it felt for him to lose his mother while he and the rest of the band were on tour, and how he could not even attend her funeral. He states how Klaus Meine's mother also passed away during the same time period. During the live footage of Send Me and Angel, Meine talks about how he had tears streaming down his cheeks, then covering his head with a Ukranian flag so the crowd would not see him crying. It's always been known that Scorpions are one of the more down-to-earth bands out there, and seeing that kind of vulnerability front and center in this kind of scenario really makes you feel empathetic.
On the flip side, there are some humorous parts too, namely when Rudolf Schenker -- who is known to do some wild and crazy things -- decides to strip down to his trunks and jump in the lake in the dead of winter. Call it the Scorpions' version of the polar bear swim, or whatever. Come to think of it, could their classic song Polar Nights have been a foretelling of this? Probably not, and this particular footage was taken during a cold but sunny day, not at night. Nevertheless it's thoroughly entertaining to see Schenker go for an afternoon dip.
Near the end of the film, the mood turns more somber, because the band had already decided to call it quits (at the time of filming anyway). Schenker explains how he doesn't want to think about tomorrow; Meine ponders on where their musical life will take them next when it's all said and done. Is retirement even something that Scorpions could deal with? In our interview with Meine back in September 2015, he couldn't even fathom the thought of retiring from Scorpions. Even then-manager Peter Amend (RIP) states that it would be nearly impossible to quit.
At the heart of Forever and a Day, however, is the celebration of one of the world's most loved Rock bands and how they climbed the ladder of success, even through all the ups and downs of the music business. Katja Von Garnier has done a remarkable job of capturing the story of the Scorpions through both the lens and the eyes of the band themselves. This is no cheap, cheesy production either. The producers put every effort into making this top notch on every front from beginning to end. The audio and video quality is fantastic, not to mention the overall material and subject matter chosen to be included in this film. Forever and a Day is a must-have for every Scorpions fan out there, and every time you watch it, you'll be reminded of why you came to love this band in the first place.
Images courtesy of MVD Entertainment / MVD Visual.