In the Court of the Crimson King (2022) Film Review
Toby Amies’ In The Court of the Crimson King is a film that’s so ambitious, one would ask if it was all worth it. Digging into the deep insides of a band like King Crimson requires a certain level of courage and grit, and only in regards to the attempt at telling the story of the band.
Fortunately, Amies doesn’t go for this. In The Court of the Crimson King isn’t like a rock documentary about a band’s legacy and why they should be praised. The director insists on what makes King Crimson a band worth exploring from a perspective of an artist’s vision, a personal consideration of what your creation should be if you seek perfection.
If you think you know this band, perhaps you do. But I can guarantee you don’t know about what makes it remain in such a stable line. Speculation and personal opinion aside, Robert Fripp, one of the original founders is the reason. He is the film’s most interesting subject, because he’s one of the most interesting creators of modern times. Amies knows this and understands his boundaries when trying to solve King Crimson’s riddle in the form of a soundscape.
The band’s 50th anniversary is celebrated through a series of concerts and encounters, and the documentary focuses on the band facing the evolutionary aspect of music while staying faithful to their sound. Again, it’s Fripp’s personal endeavor, but Crimson is also recognized as a sound collective with a presence that’s hard to solve today. There’s a mystery to their music, and whether or not you’re familiar with their concept, the documentary proves that the people behind the band make it an fascinating example of modern art. Amies goes through a series of interviews among Fripp’s testimonies. It’s not that he feels superior to the rest, it’s that he believes music must elevate them above everything else.
But there’s a sacrifice.
Robert Fripp says: “King Crimson isn’t in someone’s musical DNA, it’s someone’s musical DNA”. He doesn’t care what others think as long as we everyone stays on their path. In The Court of the Crimson King is a film about obsession that’s hardly expressed or solved. We enter a stage where noise is uncalled for and rejection is acceptable. Amies trusts his position enough to tell Fripp to stay on his side, but the personality of this musical virtuoso is so invasive, that we feel in the grasp of someone who holds no limits to what he’s capable of doing in order to achieve a sound. Amies doesn’t suffer as long as he stays on his side of the ring, observing something always about to react.
Few music documentaries feel this intimate, but there aren’t many music documentaries about bands worth revisiting and deconstructing. The sound of King Crimson is unique, flawless and unforgettable. However, Amies insists on what takes place beyond the creation. And in the corner of that room, there’s a man whose past is unsolvable but important enough to be the perfect driver.