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Circa 1978, Bruce Springsteen was in a spectacularly tortured place. Fresh off Born to Run and overflowing with material, he had the chance to fully indulge his perfectionist streak. That made for a stew of ambition, insecurity and some spectacularly frustrated band members—and, as it turns out, some pretty good television.

A new Springsteen doc called The Promise is making the rounds at the Toronto Film Fest with archived footage, band interviews and a refreshingly geeky take on the whole affair. Clips are already leaking out at a thrilling pace, showing exactly how wrenching the sessions for Darkness on the Edge of Town really were, with upwards of 70 songs being whittled down to the darkest ten he could produce (at least until Nebraska). It’s a rare creative moment, the kind of thing that makes you glad someone brought a camera along. And if for some reason you don’t feel like trekking out to Toronto, it’ll be arriving on HBO on October 7.

—R.B.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Russell Brandom