In the Court of the Crimson King: King Crimson at 50

Directed by: Toby Amies

DGM Live • Succulent Pictures 2022

In the Court of the Crimson King is a documentary film about King Crimson. A project with a long-running career in music and a devout following. The film is directed and written by Toby Amies and premiered at the first time at SXSW last year before an official release later in the year. Bassist Trey Gunn likens being in Crimson to “a low-grade infection. You’re not really sick, but you don’t feel well either.” Former member Adrian Belew said his time with the band caused his hair to fall out. “It was so intense to be under that microscope,” he said in the film, while multi-instrumentalist Mel Collins – who has done two tours of duty in Crimson, in the 70s and more recently– described his first run as “a trauma. If you made a mistake, it was the end of the world.” The idiosyncratic nature of Robert Fripp, the founder and longest standing member of King Crimson, is not only the driving force of the band but is also one of the documentary’s greatest assets and seems to be completely genuine. Between him practicing spiraling, off-time scales alone in his lounge staring off into space to his colleagues’ often adolescent-like awe of his commandeering persona, Fripp is often made out to be a difficult person to work with.

People often find Robert Fripp to be a cold and calculating Napoleon type and this film tends to hinge on this single dimension of his personality. However, if you see his Instagram you’ll see that he is also a canny old man that enjoys this world, defects and all. His musical style has been revered and respected for decades. He even invented a tuning method in which each string to fifths, new standard. He also composed the startup sound of Windows Vista Operating System. King Crimson is a band whose influence on music can only be rivaled only by say, Black Sabbath or Pink Floyd. Fripp has worked with the likes of David Bowie, Blondie, Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel, Daryl Hall, Midge Ure, Talking Heads, and David Sylvian. The film delves into his artistic partnerships with various members of the band, past and present, highlighting the differences in dynamic between each one. Fripp even opens up about his time under the tutelage of JG Bennett in Sherborne at his International Academy for Continuous Education. A self-help programme that taught the Fourth Way work of Georgei Ivanovitch Gurdjieff. All of this and interviews with a devout Catholic nun who is probably their biggest fan. It’s an extremely entertaining film. Toby Amies was masterful on this piece.


One response to “In the Court of the Crimson King: King Crimson at 50”

  1. Thea Avatar

    King Crimson fans are a breed apart.

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