When I was nine years old I was in a stable relationship with my ZX spectrum who happily transported me away to fantastic worlds whenever the mood took us. That was before she entered my life and we began a sordid affair.
Review by Andy Pryer - aka @ClammyLizard
When I graduated to middle school one of my new friends introduced me to something which would rock my world - The Commodore Amiga 500. My friend's Amiga and I shared brief stolen moments before and after school before I returned home to my suddenly substandard Speccy.
It’s difficult to imagine the culture shock now in that stunning, vast leap in technology and impossible to explain to anyone younger than thirty. The jolt of being catapulted into the 16-bit era nearly jerked my head off my shoulders; it was like having an arcade at home. The sound, the music, the graphics, the games! The day I finally secured my own miga system (another story which you can read about here) was without doubt the happiest of my life. My wife has come to accept this and in time so will my son.
Apparently I’m not alone in my passion which has inspired filmmakers Anthony and Nicola Caulfield to create the definitive documentary of god's own computer. Following on from the well deserved success of their previous film: From Bedrooms to Billions which charts the rise of and fall of ‘Britsoft’, the Amiga Years is unabashedly a love song to the greatest computer of all time -the system that brought enormous power and futuristic tech into the bedrooms of a generation and used it’s irresistible allure to kickstart the careers of countless developers. If any home computer can single handedly support a documentary it’s this one.
The documentary begins not at the beginning as you might expect, but before the beginning, describing the process which lead to the eventual creation of the dream machine. There’s an impressive roster of talking heads willing to share their insight and memories into the development and evolution. Some of it wonderfully whimsical which is extremely endearing and reminds the viewer that the Amiga was created by talented humans with personalities and didn’t just pop into existence fully formed or created in a sterile lab. An immense amount of work was lavished on our beloved computer to make it a reality and learning about first hand is a genuine treat. Original development drawings and notes as well as contemporary advertising materials are also on proud display illustrating the level of research and the passion for the subject matter.
All good movies feature a villain - usually large, powerful and hitherto unbeatable. In this case Atari & Co. plays the part extremely well ensuring that the uninitiated are all rooting for the underdog throughout.
This is not just a movie about the games; The Amiga was beloved by all as the enabling computer giving creativity to the masses and more or less equal time is devoted to exploring what made the amiga such a special device. As the movie progresses it segways seamlessly through every aspect of the machine ensuring all appetites are satisfied. The Amiga was such a versatile machine it was just as comfortable creating music and art as it was games and even business applications. Again the opinions of those developers at the time and those inspired by them are what carries the movie’s momentum.
The movie delves deep into the zeitgeist of the late 80s and early 90s and the frequent and joyous musical interludes and montages prevent things ever becoming dry. I found myself glued, happy to be swept away on a wave of perfectly balanced proportions of nostalgia and fascination served at just the right pace. The movie is unashamedly pro amiga and while it stops just short of propaganda, time is even set aside for some good old Atari ST bashing reminiscent of the playground. As a die hard fan of the Amiga myself I naturally agree that the Amiga was the better machine and even the best, but I’ve never before seen such a cohesive and comprehensive argument as to the reasons for its success.
Watch this movie and you too will become a happy believer.
Review by Andy Pryer - aka @ClammyLizard
Get your own personal copy of The Amiga Years - Special Edition on DVD or Blu Ray by clicking here > goo.gl/1Tk5A1