Tilt: The Battle To Save Pinball
Title: Tilt: The Battle To Save Pinball
Run Time: 60 Minutes
Available From: Amazon Prime (Purchase)
Price: £3.99 Rent – £5.99 Buy – SD Only
I hadn’t seen this documentary until recently and thought it was about time I changed that, reviews I had seen elsewhere all seemed positive, so now seemed a good a time as any. Written and directed by Greg Maletic, it takes a retrospective look at the journey of Williams designers through the design, launch and fall of the short lived (9 months) and ultimately ill fated Pinball 2000 platform, which at the time left Stern as the only pinball manufacturer in the world.
I won’t take this review through the story of Pinball 2000, that’s for the film to do, and I recommend that any pinball fan takes that time to do so. The story is easy to follow, it starts with a really immersive introduction to pinball through the ages with great pacing. It feels informative, well edited and interlaced with excellent commentary from some of the industries absolute titans, including Roger Sharpe, Lyman Sheats Jr., George Gomez and Pat Lawlor. The film progresses through to introducing the plight of Pinball, through the design of the Pinball 2000 system, it’s launch and eventual failure. At every point through the film you are taking in a great amount of information and detail, at just 60 minutes the film at no point feels rushed, and it ends in a satisfying manner. As a pinball fan, of course, it would have been great to go further with the timeline, into Stern – but this isn’t Stern’s story, it is Pinball 2000’s and if I am being completely honest with myself as a viewer, over a pinball fan it ended where it should have. Structuring this film wasn’t hard, of course there is a natural beginning, middle and end to the story – but what makes this documentary stand out is how well chosen those moments to convey each part of the story are. Maletic also does a great job in choosing just the right the amount of time to spend on each element to give you the detail but also progress the story in an engaging way.
The narration feels genuine and draws you in as a viewer, alongside the editing of real world interviews it is deftly executed to create seamless and engrossing transitions between narrator, interview and visuals. Pinball is known for it’s incredible visuals from an art package perspective, but when the curtains are drawn back into what must have been a tough time for all involved, it creates an interesting contrast of the greyscale emotions of the pressures behind closed doors, and the colourful controlled mayhem of pinball conveyed to the market.
Whilst expecting some of the documentary led visuals to be a let down, after all, this documentary must have been produced on a budget – it really a huge surprise to see how wrong I was. The animations and visuals created by the documentary are just as immersive as the real world characters and visuals from the industry. It doesn’t feel cheap in comparison and again creates and overall feel which is solid through the documentary.
I am sure that there must be some negatives from this documentary, but I cannot find them. It is a great short documentary at just £5.99 to keep forever, is an absolute bargain. The fall of Williams is such a huge part of pinball history that this documentary is a must watch for any pinball fan. There is a great line-up of industry figures still relevant today and although only 13 years old, worth looking at simply for some of the hairstyles. Easy 5 out of 5 if on the value alone.