ABBA Forever: The Winner Takes It All DVD Review: This New Documentary Is Unsatisfying

The TV movie/documentary which hit U.S. television in August of 2019, and now DVD, chronicles the History of ABBA, currently celebrating their 50th anniversary. Though they broke up after only ten years, you would think a documentary that is described as “The story of the members of ABBA, from their first meeting 50 years ago up to today” would be longer than 52 minutes. Yes, the documentary is less than an hour. “Mamma Mia!” It would take longer than that to listen to their hits. “Knowing Me, Knowing You,” you may not think it should be longer, but “I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do.” I mean, are they releasing this on DVD with no bonus material, or even opening credits just for the “Money, Money, Money”? I’m a big ABBA fan, so when I saw it was available, it was almost as if it called out, “Take a Chance on Me.” I certainly wasn’t satisfied, but there is little recourse. Eventually, “The Winner Takes It All.” Is anyone still here? If you’re still reading this, my apologies. I couldn’t resist. I should start including Pun Alerts with my Spoiler Alerts.

I am indeed an ABBA fan and was looking forward to viewing this DVD. I don’t recall seeing it when it was on television, so, with multiple appetites needing to be satisfied, I sat down with a bowl of popcorn and hit “play.” It seemed odd that there was no menu or opening credits, but ok. I guess you don’t need a menu when there is nothing else on the DVD. There was some brief information on how the group met, but I would have enjoyed some insight into each member prior to joining the group. The development of the music is interesting, and the insights of Bono, Donny Osmond, Neil Sedaka, and others is enlightening, but I was still left wanting more.

As I researched this documentary, I found that director Chris Hunt had co directed the similarly titled 20 years earlier. Described as a documentary that “reflects the peaks and troughs of the Swedish super group’s popularity over the decades, as well as the quartet’s turbulent years together,” it sounds incredibly similar to what we’re getting with this “new” release. The earlier version comes in longer with a 90-minute home video version. So, if ABBA: Forever: The Winner Takes It All is “the story of the members of ABBA from their first meeting 50 years ago up to today,” then how could it be shorter than ABBA: The Winner Takes It All, which was produced 20 years earlier? Part of me wants to view the earlier release, but I imagine it will simply frustrate me further

Summary: I remain an ABBA fan, but this new documentary is unsatisfying. Not enough material considering the story that they attempted to tell. Too many unanswered questions, especially regarding the earlier release. Ultimately it earns “Ron’s Rejection”. To Pop Twist Studio, and director Chris Hunt I say, “no thanks.” To ABBA, I say, “thank you for the music.” Oh, come on. You knew that was coming.

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