Kasper Collin's I Called Him Morgan is a film about the importance of forgiveness, an ode to empathy, a transfixing documentary that doesn't settle for the simple answers to a complex story, understanding that much of life is far more complex than the simple conclusions many draw in life for the sake of simplicity. Deconstructing the story of celebrated jazz musician Lee Morgan, who was shot dead by his common-law wife Helen during a gig in New York City on a cold and stormy night, Kasper Collin's film takes an investigative lens to this complex relationship, showing no judgement about the end results per se, only attempting to understand how things could have gone so wrong. I Called Him Morgan is a love letter to not just celebrated jazz musician Lee Morgan but also Helen, a film which beautifully manages to juxtapose each of their intertwined lives in a way that captures a perilous, yet exuberant relationship, one which was constantly strained by the outside temptations of drug culture and a time in American history in which African Americans felt extreme pressure to assimilate to the mainstream, white culture of America. In crafting this unique and spellbinding story of two unique personalities and star-crossed lovers, Kasper Collin uses an abundance of archival footage, as well as in person interviews with close friends and various members of the jazz community, dissecting this flawed, yet extremely talented artist who was gone too soon. The heavy use of archival footage interplay beautifully with Lee Morgan's stunning trumpet, with the film creating a atmospheric mood of mystery and impending sadness, in a lot of ways encapsulating the artform of Jazz music itself in the way the story is told. It would have been so easy for Kasper Collins to present a one-sided tragedy of a talented artist gone too soon, but the filmmaker understands vividly that this story is far more complex than this, detailing how both Lee and Helen each owed so much to each other, regardless of the tragic outcome which followed. In a lot of ways, the film captures the importance of forgiveness, being a story of redemption in a lot of ways, detailing how the insufferable guilt Helen experienced, due to her violent crime of passion, drove her to eventually find a form of salvation for herself back in Wilmington. I Called Him Morgan details how an instant moment of insanity or emotional anguish can have grave results that change everything, with Helen's violent outburst transforming the lives of so many through an act that lasted mere seconds. Through the shock, and sadness of Helen taking Lee's life, the film exhibits how she also was primarily responsible for saving his life in a lot of ways, literally lifting him out of the gutter when his drug addiction has decimated him, pushing this great talent to be great when it appeared he may be lost to addiction and depression. Emotionally heavy, utterly fascinating, and extremely mature, Kasper Collin's I Called Him Morgan is a powerful documentary about two utterly unique personalities and the love they shared, detailing how their common bonds centered around music brought them together while displaying the tragic circumstances that ultimately tore them apart.
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