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The Velvet Underground

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Todd Haynes and the Velvet Underground… This is a dream combo, and the movie does not disappoint. Haynes (I’m Not There) strips away the formal orthodoxies of the rock doc, recreating the alchemical experimentalism which ignited the New York art scene in the 60s, avant-garde music, film, poetry and pop art. Surviving Velvets John Cale and Maureen Tucker share their stories, but Factory factotums like Mary Woronov and Amy Taubin colour in the spaces, while Jonathan Richman raves about seeing them perform 60 times on their frequent trips to Boston. Cale is personable and eloquent on the subject of the originality inherent in their sound, while Tucker reminds us how they stood apart from the West Coast scene: “We hated that peace and love crap.” Above all, though, we are reminded of Lou Reed’s prodigious gifts as a songwriter, as well as his thorny personality.

“Haynes doesn’t just want you to listen to the reminiscences of band members and their friends, lovers and collaborators, or to groove on vintage video of the band in action. He wants you to hear just how strange and new the Velvets sounded, to grasp, intuitively as well as analytically, where that sound came from. And also to see — to feel, to experience — the aesthetic ferment and sensory overload of mid-60s Manhattan. The Velvet Underground… connects the sonic dots with other, contemporaneous artistic eruptions. As a documentary, it’s wonderfully informative. It’s also a jagged and powerful work of art in its own right, one that turns archaeology into prophecy.” AO Scott, The New York Times

Pure rock bliss.

Peter Howell, Toronto Star

If you already love the Velvet Underground, this is two hours of visual and aural bliss. If you don’t, same.

Chris Waywell, Time Out

What Haynes exhibits through his own complex, textured documentary is that the Velvet Underground’s music remains fertile ground for inspiration.

Pat Brown, Slant magazine


Media Partner

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Todd Haynes


John Cale, Maureen Tucker, Jackson Browne, Jonathan Richman, Mary Woronov, Amy Taubin, John Waters

Country of Origin






121 min

Book Tickets

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Executive Producer

Michele Anthony, Danny Bennett, Pamela Koffler, John Sloss


Todd Haynes, Christine Vachon, Julie Goldman, Christopher Clements, Carolyn Hepburn, David Blackman

Also playing at VIFF Centre