The Ballad of Ramblin' Jack


Top 20% of all time (see others with this rank)

Festival Year

2000 (click here to see all competition films from this year)


Documentary Competition

Non-Cast Credits

Alyana Elliott, Paul Mezey, Dan Partland, Hunter Grey, Tyler Brodie, Jesse Crawford, Alyana Elliott, Dick Dahl, David Baum, Susan Littenberg, Ramblin' Jack Elliott


Told from an insider's point of view, The Ballad of Ramblin' Jack is an intimate portrait of an artist whose musical influence has resonated for generations. Ramblin' Jack Elliot is a folk hero's hero, who learned to play the guitar from legend Woody Guthrie and others while sharing his experience with many who followed. The filmmaker is his daughter, Aiyanna Elliot, who has chosen to make a personal film about the unusual life of her father. She tells his almost-mythical life story while flowing him on a recent tour, exposing a side of Ramblin' Jack no one has seen before.

Jack Elliot came from unlikely beginnings. A doctor's son from Brooklyn, he ran away as a teenager to make his way in the world. The Ballad of Ramblin' Jack has lived his life on the road, crisscrossing the country, hooking up with musicians, and simply playing his music. He became a father, though having a family did not easily fit into a ramblin' man's lifestyle; he caught up with his wife and daughter when he could. Aiyanna takes a look at all the people who revered her father, while she and her mother were anxiously waiting for him to come home.

The Ballad of Ramblin' Jack smartly combines elements of personal documentary and a portrait of a legend and sprinkles in legitimate performances. The film makes excellent use of footage of early performances of Ramblin' Jack with various friends. The informal style allows an audience a unique and unforgettable opportunity to become familiar with this singular character.


Lisa Viola (see other films reviewed by the same reviewer)

Film Takes Pace.