Les Blank (b. 27 November 1935, Tampa, Florida, United States) is an American documentary filmmaker best known for his portraits of American traditional musicians.
Blank attended Tulane University in New Orleans, where he received a B.A. in English literature and an M.F.A. in theater. He had also studied communications at the University of Southern California. Following his university education he founded his own production company, Flower Films, and most of his films since that time have been independently produced, often with the assistance of grants from cultural agencies, both governmental and non-governmental.
Most of his films focus on American traditional music forms including (among others) blues, Appalachian, Cajun, Creole, Tex-Mex, polka, tamburitza, and Hawaiian musics. Many of these films represent the only filmed documents of musicians who are now deceased.
Blank’s films focusing on musical subjects often spend much of their running time focusing not… read more
The base of pretty much every sauce you can imagine in pretty much every fine dining restaurant is garlic, butter sauces, tomato sauces, a gremolata, et. al. But garlic is, at its heart a peasant food (the grilled sardines at the end of this film being a perfect explication). So what this reveals is that the true base of any nation's cuisine isn't in what the rich eat, but what the poor need just to survive.
Les Blank knows how to take something small, like Garlic, and then blow it up, to explore some bigger picture. He's nailed that whole micro-macro thing we obsess over in films. The viewer is steeped in the entire human process through something as simple as garlic: alienation, acceptance, celebration, culture, mythology, you name it. This is great!