Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me.

The sound of a projector is heard as an old 8mm home movie is projected on to a screen.  They show a young father playing with his children, making faces at the camera, laughing and enjoying his life.  The camera pulls back behind an older couple watching the film from their couch.  Then a close up. The older man is biting his upper lip then asks, “Who is that?”  “That’s you honey” comes the reply. A pause then, “Oh, there I am.”  And he laughs.  Another pause, “Who’s that with me?”  “That’s your daughter.  Your first daughter Debbie.”  And so begins this 2014 documentary on the life of Glen Campbell, now in his 70’s, struggling with Alzheimer’s and preparing to go on one last farewell tour. 

Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me is not the easiest film to watch.  Mr. Campbell’s good nature still comes across and in spite of the mental handicap caused by the Alzheimer’s he is still able to put on a great show.  The film follows him through 151 tour dates.  You see him back stage, in the hotels and busses and of course on stage.  He has help. He is surrounded by his wife, his friends and family; two of them, Ashley and Cal, are on stage with him.  A teleprompter reminds him of where he is and the words he has to sing, but the melody and music are still in his hands.  Every night the family wonders, “Will he make it through the night?”  His love for the music seems to carry him through.  No matter what else he forgets, the music seems to break through the barriers of Alzheimer’s while he is on stage.  Off stage presents a greater struggle.  He is very fortunate to have the love and patience of his wife, his family and his crew around him.    This film is not just about Glen Campbell’s experience with this debilitating disease, it’s about how it affects those around him, the changes they have to make in their lives to help him through each day.  It is these efforts and changes that makes this film so difficult to watch.  You see the hurt in their eyes and the pain in their heart when he forgets their names.  Glen is able to an extent to laugh it off, but it is really no laughing matter.  When his daughter Ashley appears before a senate hearing on Alzheimer’s research she breaks down.  In truth, so did both my wife and I.


Inspiring, depressing and enlightening this is a film that I would encourage everyone to watch.  It provides a look into the world of Alzheimer’s that is uncolored by Hollywood padding. It is a real look in to the suffering this disease causes and the coping mechanisms caregivers apply. This viewpoint is especially timely since we can only expect to see the number of instances of this disease increase in the future.