Directors: Don Argott, Demian Fenton
Stars: Vinny Appice, Sebastian Bach, Geezer Butler
The first time you hear Ronnie James Dio singing, you feel like you’ve discovered the Holy Grail. I am convinced that his voice could kill dragons and make volcanoes erupt, there is nothing like it. Behind that glorious metal voice was a beautiful soul who sang about dreams and uplifted those around him without ever sacrificing his essence. Twelve years after his death, Don Argott and Demian Fenton celebrate the life and work of this music legend with the comprehensive and moving documentary Dio: Dreamers Never Die.
Just as Dio was a perfectionist, this film tries to leave no stone unturned as it takes us from the life of the singer who grew up in Cortland, New York and his early forays into music to his battle with stomach cancer and his death. eventual death in 2010. You learn about the origin of the famous devil horns (Dio’s signature hand gesture), Dio’s rise with Rainbow, his arrival and impact on Black Sabbath, the formation of the Dio group, and many fascinating stories behind the scenes about his personality and notable Facts throughout his career. Tenacious D fans won’t be disappointed: Jack Black’s story about filming Dio’s epic Tenacious D cameo in The Pick of Destiny will shake your soul.
Argott and Fenton use a combination of footage and interviews to tell their story, but unlike recent works like Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall Off (2022) which get disappointingly stuck in the conventions of traditional footage and the documentary form of interviews. , Dio: Dreamers Never Die is full of energy thanks to the way the directors play with audiovisual elements. If they have a photo on the screen, they twist it, move it or enlarge it; you’re hit with a simple yet effective kinetic typography animation of Dio’s lyrics to reinforce the exploration of certain themes or moments; they illustrate the stories of the interviewees with sensational recreations (the one from the Holy Diver cover photo shoot is pure gold); and there’s a plethora of footage, from Super-8 clips and concert recordings to old Dio interviews and official music videos. Fenton’s crisp editing ties it all together to create an engaging film that always has time to take a breath and reflect on the difficulties in the subject’s life. It also helps that the music kicks butt.
The cast of talking heads is absolutely stacked. We have: Dio’s widow, Wendy; biographer Mick Wall; historian and radio host Eddie Trunk; rock legends (some of whom played with Dio) Rob Halford, Lita Ford, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Sebastian Bach, Roger Glover, Rudy Sarzo, Vinny Appice, among many others. And, of course, Jack Black, whose energy and passion when talking about Dio is infectious. These figures narrate the life of Dio and nourish the documentary with fascinating facts and stories that give us the greatest possible intimacy about his life and his personality.
Along the way, the film makes sure to stop at every obstacle in Dio’s career to reflect on his impact. His rise to fame was difficult, mainly due to his unwillingness to change his style: Dio always remained authentic and refused to sell out under the pressure of new trends. Additionally, Argott and Fenton make sure to highlight how Dio has always used his music and personality to try and lift others up; he sang about dreams, never giving up and standing up for yourself. He was loved and tried to be a role model for those who looked up to him.
Dio: Dreamers Never Die lacks a deeper exploration of certain themes. For example, it would have been enriching to know more about Dio’s fascination with medieval books and themes and his influence on his songs, as well as how he developed his spectacular theatrical image and stage presence. But there’s not much you can pack into 112 minutes.
After such an epic retelling of the life of a legend, Dio: Dreamers Never Die enters emotional territory when it comes time to talk about his death. Because Argott and Fenton do an excellent job of demonstrating the importance of Dio and his positive influence on others, it doesn’t matter if you’re a metalhead or if you’ve never heard the name Ronnie James Dio before reproducing this document. you will feel the emotion of his companions and loved ones at the end of the film. More than that, you’ll also learn why he was a rainbow in the dark for fans and musicians alike.