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In the Court of the Crimson King: King Crimson at 50 (2022)

King Crimson, a progressive rock band founded in the 1960’s in London, has recently turned fifty, and In the Court of the Crimson King: King Crimson at 50 aims to tell the story of the band over the course of their existence, and shed light on all that has transpired over that time. As we dive into In the Court of the Crimson King: King Crimson at 50, we soon learn that the successful life of this English band isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, and behind closed doors trouble exists on a massive scale.


I often wonder how it is that all of the stars manage to align and allow certain things to come to life. Is it divine intervention? Is it the will of the individuals involved? I can’t be sure what the thing was that allowed King Crimson to come to life, but, holy shit, how in the world has it survived so long?


Founding member Robert Fripp appears to be one of the biggest assholes that I’ve ever seen on screen, and I can’t get over the fact that people have been willing to gravitate toward him for more than fifty years now. In some ways In the Court of the Crimson King: King Crimson at 50 plays out like a mystery of sorts, a film that constantly begs viewers to ask the questions “why?” and “how?” Through a series of interviews (when people will allow the camera to focus on them), viewers slowly get answers. It’s sort of fun to play along with this documentary, to try and figure out how this band has managed to survive as long as it has–and by the end of In the Court of the Crimson King: King Crimson at 50, I think viewers are given sufficient answers.


That aforementioned question about how things come to be, it’s not necessarily relevant in regard to In the Court of the Crimson King: King Crimson at 50, as it actually makes a lot of sense. Fripp is so unhinged, so out of his mind that it makes sense to develop a documentary about a band that he’s helped keep alive for more than five decades. He says absolutely absurd things, and just having him on screen is enough to develop intense drama. Humans gravitate toward conflict, they love confrontation–and Fripp is the embodiment of those things.


Music documentaries can have a series of goals, but one that always sits at the top of the to-do list is to encourage viewers to listen to the musical artist in question. In the Court of the Crimson King: King Crimson at 50 achieves this goal. A band that I’ve never heard of, and likely would have never found without the film, and Director Toby Amies' film most certainly encourages viewers to look for this band and to listen to their music. As interesting as everything else is, this is the most important part of creating In the Court of the Crimson King: King Crimson at 50, and Amies achieves that goal.


Fripp may just be one of the most frustrating individuals that I’ve ever seen in a film, and no matter what he says or does he comes off as a smug asshole. He honestly helps to propel In the Court of the Crimson King: King Crimson at 50, a documentary about music, forward. Amies does all that he can, and ultimately achieves a series of goals from captivating an audience to ensuring that King Crimson has gained new fans.


Written & Directed by Toby Amies.


Starring John Armitage, Adrian Belew, Sister Dana Benedicta, Biff Blumfumgagnge, Bill Bruford, Mel Collins, Robert Fripp, etc.


⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/10


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