The Gift: The Journey of Johnny Cash Unclassified 15+
Johnny Cash’s story has never been told like this. Thom Zimny’s seamless, collage-style oral history refuses to walk the line. Stripped back, essential, like the American Recordings albums Cash made with producer Rick Rubin, it gazes past the myth of the Man in Black and into his soul.
The film’s emotional centre is Cash’s 1968 performance at Folsom State Prison, California. Zimny (known for his many Bruce Springsteen films) channels the allure of lawlessness that followed the hard-living country singer, but emphasises that Johnny championed “the ones who are held back”. Folsom was also a triumphant professional moment within a tumultuous career that slewed between self-sabotage and redemption.
Cash himself narrates from tapes recorded for his 1997 autobiography, while other voices – his friends, children, admirers and music historians – illuminate Zimny’s tapestry of archival photos and footage. Both devoted fans and newcomers who only know Cash’s legend will be thrilled by this film’s insistence on his humanity.
“A richly textured portrait infused with sympathetic but unvarnished honesty, one that likely will endure as necessary source material for any future biographer.” – Variety