A Poem is a Naked Person

Les Blank's long-lost Leon Russell documentary comes to cinemas

Film Review by Philip Concannon | 03 Aug 2016
  • A Poem Is a Naked Person
Film title: A Poem is a Naked Person
Director: Les Blank
Starring: Leon Russell, Mary Egan, Jim Franklin, George Jones, Charlie McCoy, Willie Nelson
Release date: 8 Jul

“I thought it was more of a movie about him than it was about me,” Leon Russell said when he first saw Les Blank’s A Poem is a Naked Person, before refusing to sanction the film’s release and allowing it to languish out of sight for decades. Now it has received a restoration and long-overdue release, we can probably see Russell’s point.

Blank’s film exists in a constant state of curious distraction, pulling away from its ostensible subject to explore the world around Russell, but this free-roaming sensibility is exactly what makes the film such a joy to experience. Instead of spending time inside Russell’s studio, Blank pops next door to meet the elderly neighbours. He lingers as a mural is painted, and then we see a mouse eat a snake and a man eat glass. Les Blank always followed his own path, happily rambling through the American wilderness in search of eccentric humanity, and A Poem Is a Naked Person is a glorious time capsule, bursting with life. We are lucky to have this film. Celebrate it.


Released by Contemporary Films