After a three year wait, the King Crimson documentary is finally here. The movie, In the Court of the Crimson King, is a fine documentary on the legendary prog rockers. Director Toby Amies has created a unique yet intriguing account on the band’s career. While it might not be the documentary that some fans were expecting, this is still worth watching.
Before diving into this movie, there is one thing that must be stated about it: In the Court of the Crimson King is not a career-spanning documentary on King Crimson. If you’re expecting something in the vein of The Sparks Brothers, End of the Century or Amazing Journey, you’ll probably be disappointed. Instead, the main focus of this documentary is on the band’s 50th anniversary tour and what goes on behind the scenes.
Throughout the movie, you’ll get to hear from each of the eight members of the band. Some members get more camera time than others but by the end of the movie, you’ll feel like you’ve gotten to know everyone. Along with this, viewers are treated to interviews with former members of the band such as the late Ian MacDonald, Michael Giles, Jamie Muir, Bill Bruford, Adrian Belew and several other members.
In its presentation, In the Court states that King Crimson were formed in 1969. For the next fifty years, guitarist Robert Fripp would become the band’s mainstay joined by a revolving door of musicians. Each of the members have their own stories related to whatever era they belong to. These are not told chronologically but even then, these parts are well paced.
The parts that focus on the touring line up are also good. Having seen this line up in 2019 and 2021, it’s amazing how much rehearsing and hard work is poured into every show the band performs. Playing the music of King Crimson is not an easy task and seeing the band all come together in these scenes is impressive. These scenes are sometimes interwoven with interviews from former band members, with their experiences in the band ranging from good to nerve wracking. Almost everyone in the movie has something to say about Robert Fripp. With that, the audience is treated to learning about what makes Mr. Fripp tick and how his mind works.
Another part of the movie that stands out are the scenes involving the late Bill Rieflin. While Rieflin is perhaps better known for his work with R.E.M. and Nine Inch Nails, Rieflin was in King Crimson over the course of six years. Rieflin passed in March 2020 after a battle with colon cancer. With this movie being mostly filmed during the 2019 tour, viewers get to see how the musician spent the last year of his life. Knowing that Rieflin was sick all during this time, there is a sadness to watching these scenes. Amies does a stellar job at editing Rieflin’s parts in the movie, as you can sympathize with Rieflin’s situation.
Topped off with some interviews with fans and a slew of Crimson tunes, In the Court of the Crimson King is a splendid documentary to watch. While it isn’t the career spanning documentary that most fans might have been hoping for, the final product that Amies has left us with is perhaps even deeper than that: a psychological look inside one of the rock’s most beloved bands.
I'm a writer/journalist with a passion for music and pop culture. Having graduated from King's College in Wilkes-Barre, PA in 2014, I've been looking for a platform in which I can share my passions. Since 2009, I've been posting to my own blog- The Walrus' Music Blog- via Blogger. I'm also the author of two self-published books, "The Camp: Stories from the Summer" and "The College: Stories from King's." Together, the two books cover the story of my life from 2004 to 2014. I've been lucky enough to interview several of my favorite musicians over the years and go to concerts from time to time. I'm also very devoted to the CBS reality TV show Survivor, which I started watching in 2002 when its fourth season started. I currently live in New Jersey.