From Sound to Image: “The Velvet Underground”

Diving into Apple TV’s newest music doc The Velvet Underground as we uncover the true story behind one of rock’s most influential and experimental acts.


Cody Wagner, Staff Writer

 “The Velvet Underground,” Apple TV’s newest documentary directed by Todd Haynes, touches upon the honest and invigorating story of the New York rock band highlighting its origin, impact, dissolution and ultimate redemption. The film presents an honest and colorful presentation of the underground culture that grew from the band’s rebellious image while creating a unique sound essential throughout the time of their debut.

The two-hour documentary highlights a rise to stardom through capturing rising sentiments of rebellion that became the hallmark of 60’s society. The band’s music reflected a darkness that highlighted tragic and dire truths Americans needed to connect to in a time of fear, war, panic and loss. The film combines raw, archived footage displaying the band’s impactful and influential career as well as their deceased original frontman and rock rebel “Lou Reed.” Interviews with founding members. violinist John Cale, drummer Moe Tucker, later frontman Jonathan Richman, and many others who had various associations with the band provided deep insight into the band’s successful and impactful musical journey. This is followed by real footage of recording sessions, interviews and behind-the-scenes segments of the band both on and offstage presenting an intimate and collective presentation that tells the story in itself. 

The film itself is both about music as an influential force in relation to the world of art and vivid creativity. Famous artists and creative visionist Andy Warhol also plays a major role. He not only made an image for the band’s debut album, “The Velvet Underground and Nico” but Warhol was also considered to be a valuable member who fueled the band’s ultimate triumph and success through obscurity and innovation that was prevalent in much of his works throughout his era of artistic influence and creativity. 

Warhol transformed the band’s image into a colorful kaleidoscopic landscape that never deferred from their appeal to wickedness and umbrage. His art not only met the band’s creative desires but allowed beauty to be shown within this fascination to darkness, that many bands who edged toward the norm of “the hippie era” with flowers, peace, love, and LSD wouldn’t even dare to explore. 

“The Velvet Underground” maintains its focus while detailing the band’s relation to art and within the world of sound. This is surely one documentary highly recommended for not only fans of the band themselves but those with a passion for the arts and creativity.