SXSW Film Review: Dio Dreamers Never Die
Biography of the metal master reveals a quiet, gentle man
By Robert Penson,
11:30AM, Fri. Mar. 18, 2022
Rock docs are usually simple. Take the story of an iconic figure in a music genre and make it interesting. But to document the life of one of the most influential rock musicians to have ever lived, and do so while bringing laughs and tears to filmgoers and heavy metal fans? That can be tricky.
But that’s just what filmmakers Demian Fenton and Don Argott did with their latest documentary Dio Dreamers Never Die.
Music doc fans might know the duo from their previous films Rock School (2005) and Last Days Here (2011). Their latest tells the story of Ronnie James Dio’s life and career, spanning five decades and three of the most influential bands in heavy music.
Through interviews, old footage, and reenactments, it tells the story of his humble beginnings in a small upstate New York farming community and rise to become a heavy metal deity. Dreamers Never Die is composed of interviews with his wife, friends, and fellow musicians including bandmates, members of Black Sabbath, and fellow metalhead Sebastian Bach, among other rock royalty. Together, they detail his childhood, his teenage years playing in bands, and behind the scenes stories of his tenures in Rainbow, Black Sabbath, and his eponymous band Dio. Through it all, We see a very private side of Ronnie, a soft spoken, kind man who abstained from hard drugs and always had time for fans, but also a driven and dedicated musician of singular vision who went on to define a genre.
The filmmaking duo, veterans of the rock n’ roll doc genre, wanted to show the not-so-typical rock star's “four careers”, as the film puts it. (The fourth era refers to his later work with Black Sabbath personnel under the moniker Heaven and Hell.) While up close and personal, the story of the Man on the Silver Mountain is as epic as his music. As Dio biographer Mich Wall says in an interview, “Some of these [musicians] are immortal… none more so than Dio.”
Online: March 18, 9am-March 20, 9am