An Inspirational and Reflective Documentary
Seven studio albums, one hundred million record sales and seventy five million albums sold worldwide. Say what you will about Coldplay as a band, the numbers speak for themselves. This humble group from London have seen an incredible rise to fame over the past 20 years and A Head Full Of Dreams is here to show us this in Amazon’s latest documentary film. From the band’s origin in Camden through to their meteoric rise selling out stadiums around the world, Coldplay have had one heck of a ride over the years. The humbling perspectives from the five band members cling to one inspirational message that’s repeated throughout the film – never give up.
The first scene opens with a touch of humour the band have never lost over the years. “All I ask is you don’t open the documentary with a shot of the band walking,” Chris pleads as the film opens… with a shot of Coldplay walking out at their first gig. From here, the film explores the early formation of the band, breaking up each segment with key moments for the group, predominantly centred around each hit record and passing album. Interwoven through the different albums are bite-size samples of the band’s best selling tracks including Paradise, Something Just Like This and Yellow.
For the most part the film does an excellent job giving each band member a voice for large portions of the run time, emphasising the togetherness and equality clearly shared amongst the group. Chris, Will, Jon and Guy all have their own unique perspectives on the band and coupled with manager Phil, their commentary helps to elevate the overall appeal of this film. With a mix of archival footage, home videos and spliced together segments from their early days on Radio 1 and MTV, the audio quality is predictably poor during these moments. To try and alleviate this, the film presents subtitles for each band member but unfortunately the colours chosen clash with the backgrounds making it difficult to discern what the muffled voices are trying to say. It’s a minor point but something that’s certainly worth mentioning given the frequency to which this shows up.
Wisely, A Head Full Of Dreams isn’t all sunshine and rainbows on the path to Coldplay’s fame. Part of what makes this film so appealing is the way the group acknowledge their flaws and issues along the way, showing us some of the more controversial and low moments the group experienced. From kicking Will out of the band to Chris’ devastating break up with Gwyneth Paltrow, each of these issues are explored with enough nuance and time without them feeling like an afterthought or a hasty inclusion to the documentary.
Whether you love or loathe Coldplay, there’s no denying the band have been a phenomenal success over the past 20 years. While even the band themselves acknowledge some of their more recent albums haven’t quite been as good as past successes, Coldplay continue to reinvent themselves and remain squarely in the limelight. While the future is still unknown for this 20-year-strong group, A Head Full Of Dreams is a celebratory, inspirational documentary, one that reflects on the success Coldplay have experienced while leaving many questions over where this may lead the group to in the future.