SXSW 2020 Film Review: “Laurel Canyon: A Place in Time”

Laurel Canyon: A Place in Time is a documentary about a unique time in music history where musicians, hippies and creative types all lived in a rustic canyon in the heart of Los Angeles in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Slated to have premiered at SXSW 2020, the film celebrates the music of Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, Love, The Mamas And The Papas, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, The Doors, Frank Zappa and more. Laurel Canyon provided an outlet for musicians to create some of the most influential and infamous albums.

FYI if you plan to watch the film below will have a few spoilers but it’s mostly historical anyhow. Throughout the film there are cameos and footage of artists from that time at Laurel Canyon. The principal cast of Laurel Canyon included Henry Diltz, Nurit Wilde, David Crosby, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, Don Henley, Chris Hillman, Graham Nash, Steve Martin, and Micky Dolenz.

While watching Laurel Canyon: A Place in Time, you learn that several pivotal albums were made during this era at Laurel Canyon. For instance, while at Laurel Canyon, Joni Mitchell wrote and created her infamous third album, Ladies of the Canyon, released in 1970 that went on to be a gold record.

It’s interesting how artists within Laurel Canyon all collaborated one way or another on each other albums or jam sessions. In fact, the song “Our House” by Crosby, Stills, and Nash (CSN) was written about Joni Mitchell’s house in Laurel Canyon.

Furthermore, the cover of CSN’s album was photographed by artist and Laurel Heights resident, Henry Diltz. Taken in front of an abandoned house with an old sofa outside the members are, left to right, Nash, Stills, and Crosby, the reverse of the order of the album title before they decided on the name “Crosby, Stills, and Nash”. The band went back to the house a couple of days later to redo the cover in the correct order however the house had already been torn down.

There were so many more compelling stories throughout the Laurel Canyon: A Place in Time documentary. I felt like it was a journey back in history to a time that was simple, free and full of beyond creative talented artists from the 60’s and 70’s.

Laurel Canyon: A Place in Time is executive produced by Frank Marshall, The Kennedy/Marshall Company; Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey, Amblin Television; Craig Kallman and Mark Pinkus, Warner Music Group; Alex Gibney, Stacey Offman and Richard Perello, Jigsaw Productions; and Jeff Pollack. The film is produced by Ryan Suffern, The Kennedy/Marshall Company, and Erin Edeiken, Jigsaw Productions and directed by Alison Ellwood.


Source: SXSW, EPIX