Lynyrd Skynyrd - Gone With The Wind ★★★½

Extremely detailed documentary that follow the formation of the original band, how their sound was established, the bar and club days, opening for The Who and Greg Allman Band. Also focuses on how they developed their sound, which for those who want to go deep into the music, this delivers. You'll get background on many early tracks, including rarities and demos. Snippets of many Skynyrd songs are played.

It is best viewed as the rise and fall of Skynyrd, because it leads up to and includes the October 20, 1977 crash. It is pretty much dismissive on the rebirth in its coverage, where Ronnie Van Zant's younger brother Johnnie 10+ years later reformed the band and carries the Skynyrd flag to present day (they're currently on hiatus from their Farewell Tour). It is the view presented in the film that the rebooted Lynyrd Skynyrd is little more than a glorified cover band. The reality, since it did include original members, particularly Gary Rossington the guitarist who has played on everything Skynyrd has ever released, but also other like Billy Powell who played piano and keys until his death. Artimus Pyle, the second drummer at the time of the plane crash, joined the new version of the band briefly.

This is a must-see for Skynyrd fans and those interested in learning more about the history of the band and celebrating their library of great songs. It's like a video Wikipedia entry presented with interviews of those who knew and worked with the band as well as actual archival footage of concerts.

Because of the exhaustive detail, this documentary runs long. Almost three hours long. This is too long for a documentary film and treading on miniseries territory. Was it interesting? Most of it, yes. I was entertained, but found some of it would have been better in an uncut/bonus version. Run time isn't as critical in those special cuts of films.

This one feels sometimes like the filmmakers said, "let's put everything in here." Just as Skynyrd didn't include every song they recorded on their first album, this documentary needed that same discipline. At the same time, it's the most detailed documentary on Lynyrd Skynyrd I've ever seen as of this writing. If run time isn't a concern to you, it's strongly recommended.