Rock icon, musician and
tantric sex expert, Sting, has almost always been a brilliant artist, but
also an egotist and arrogant fellow. His days with The Police were marked
with constant arguments with drummer Stewart Copeland. Sting, after the
breakup of the band in the late-1980s, took it upon himself to show the
world how much damage was being done to the Amazon rain forests. Then by the
1990s, he became self-aware and religious, mixing sometimes excellent songs
with sermon-like tunes. Sting seemed like an arrogant, yet brilliant singer
and musician almost anybody could enjoy.
I was a fan of The Police. I still consider the band to be my favorite,
despite an enormous passage of time since the release of their last official
album in 1983. Damn, they were so good. In five albums, they produced a
catalog of songs (most of them written and owned by Sting) that have become
classics. “Roxanne” is perhaps one of the most recognizable songs in pop
music, though it’s been heavily overplayed for eons. “Tea In The Sahara” is
a nice little eerie song that’s moody and brilliant lyrically. “Don’t Stand
So Close To Me” starts with a hum and ends with a bang. From the album
“Outlandos d’Amour” (1978) to “Synchronicity” (1983), the group went from a
very good punk/reggae-influenced band, to a tight trio that made one of the
best albums of the 1980s.
So it was indeed sad for any Police fan to hear of their separation by 1986,
when they released “Every Breath You Take: The Singles.” The Police were
over. But the writing had been on the wall when Sting released his solo
album in 1985 called “Dream Of The Blue Turtles.” It was a departure from
The Police, no doubt. Gone, it seemed, was the edginess and spark that kept
that band thrilling to listen to. This solo album had jazz tunes, reggae and
haunting songs like “Children’s Crusade.” But where was the rock-and-roll?
One tune, “Fortress Around Your Heart,” is perhaps the most “Police-like”
song on this album, but the rest of it signaled the turning point for Sting
as a musician. No longer was he a rocker. He grew up and his music became
In the fall of 1985, Samuel
Goldwyn Films released a documentary on Sting forming and touring with his
new band. The film, directed by acclaimed documentary and feature filmmaker,
Michael Apted, took its name from a signature Police song, “Bring On
The Night.” The film was not particularly successful and didn't last long in
theatres. For a number of years, the only way to see the film was on VHS
tape. The sound wasn’t very good, nor was the picture. Perhaps that’s why I
never cared for the film. I found it boring, self-aware, ego-driven and
slow. Sting, in his true form at the time of the film, comes off as
arrogant, but that, I guess, is part of his “mystique.” But he’s very
arrogant in this film. His music and his “brilliance” just don’t stink, and
luckily for him, his music’s so good, that I didn’t mind.
The film didn’t take speed until nearly the end, when Sting sings “Message
In A Bottle,” and that's when the end credits appear. The rest of the movie
is interspersed with interviews with Sting and his new band mates, a number
of rehearsal scenes in a chateau in France, and the birth of one of Sting’s
children with Trudy Styler. This film is Sting’s ode to himself, and
frankly, it’s boring as hell.
Here we are 20 years (!) after the theatrical release of “Bring On The
Night,” and the film has finally made it onto DVD in a spectacular visual
and sound package. Though the film is still very boring at times, the film
does have its moments of musical bliss if you’re a fan of Sting’s earlier
The best parts of the movie, clearly, are the concert scenes filmed in
Paris. Sting is one of the best acts to see live, and this film shows his
ability to capture an audience. He sings a number of tunes from “Dream Of
The Blue Turtles,” including “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free” and “We
Work The Black Seam Together,” plus “Roxanne.” Other songs include such gems
as “Low Life” and “Another Day.”
Concert films, generally, are pretty tough to watch, unless you’re a
die-hard fan of a certain act. Just like listening to a recording of a live
concert, it’s just not the same as being there. The same goes here, but
Apted’s direction is solid and his camera is focused on Sting’s performance,
along with the band that included Bradford Marsalis, Omar Hakim, Darryl
Jones, Kenny Kirkland, and backing vocalists, Dolette McDonald and Janice
This film would’ve worked splendidly as a 45-minute documentary, rather than
a long, drawn-out mixture of rehearsals, interviews and concert footage. The
whole affair takes too long to get to the good “stuff.” With that said, the
concert footage is entertaining in parts. “I Burn For You” is one of Sting’s
most haunting love songs, and it’s spectacularly sung here. And listening to
Sting sing “Message In A Bottle” live is a must for any rock fan to see in
his or her lifetime. It’s mesmerizing here on DVD.
The DVD transfer is excellent, and probably the best this film has looked in
years. I did not see it theatrically, so my first impression was on tape.
Fortunately, DVD does the film some justice. On a standard analog Sony
WEGA, the picture is outstanding. Put this film on a larger screen
television, film grain is seen throughout, and that's not a bad thing.
It's a 1980s documentary, for heaven's sake!
The sound is
well-presented. The film was, yes, you guessed it if you’re a regular
visitor to FSTD, shown theatrically in 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo. The good
ol’ original analog soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital or DTS 5.1
Surround, and both sound very good. The DTS track has kick and more depth to
it than the Dolby Digital version. The only drawback on this DVD is about
the sound on the music videos of “Bring On The Night,” “If You Love Somebody
Set Them Free,” and “Russians.” They’re presented in minimal 192Kbps
resolution, sound that is slightly higher in resolution than a typical MP3
tune. Definitely not high fidelity.
But push those minor quibbles aside, this is a great picture and sound
demonstration disc for your home theatre. And especially if you’re a Sting
fan, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy bits and pieces of the
documentary, just not the whole film. It captured Sting going from head
Policeman to solo artist, and for a time, his solo artistry was wonderful,
arrogance and all.
Sting: Bring On
A & M Records /
Universal Music & Video Distribution, Corp.
Catalog Number B0004327-09
16:9 Widescreen (1.85:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1
DVD Release Date: March 29, 2005
Director: Michael Apted
© A & M Records. All rights reserved.