During the summer of 1990, director Alek Keshishian started filming onstage and backstage footage of Madonna’s Blond Ambition Tour. The film is more like a documentary with behind-the-scenes footage filmed entirely in black and white, and the onstage scenes in colour.
The film let you see inside Madonna’s life on the road, the hardships, the hard work and the celebritism. There are appearances from celebrities such as Sandra Bernhard, Al Pacino, Kevin Costner, Antonio Banderas, and Madonna’s then-boyfriend, Warren Beatty. Her family members make very small appearances; her brother, Christopher, is rarely seen, and she only speaks with her father on the phone – as well as singing Happy Birthday to him on stage. The film followed Madonna as she visited her mother’s grave; something she had not done since she was a child. However, Madonna comes off as extremely controlling, almost never emotional unless it’s with anger or shouting orders.
The concert video footage was shot in America, France, Japan, and Italy (while there, the Pope attempted to have it banned, forcing Madonna to cancel one show). In Canada, on the final night of a Toronto run, Madonna and crew were informed that plainclothes policemen were there and were prepared to arrest her if she performed the mock-masturbation scene during ‘Like A Virgin’. Refusing to change her show, Madonna was angered by the news, and performed an extra dirty version of the skit.
The documentary was well-received by critics and was reasonably successful at the box office – at that point it was the highest-grossing documentary of all time; its worldwide gross was just over $29,000,000.
A Side Note: I was an extremely lucky nine-year-old girl who had an awesome Aunt surprise her with really good tickets to that infamous Toronto show. I was so in love with Madonna, but had no clue what I was in for. I had my eyes bugged out and my mouth wide open not only for ‘Like A Virgin’, but for the entire show. It was so sexual that I was honestly in shock. She went nuts on that bed, and the video screen above her was going five times as fast. It was an interesting car ride home for my aunt that night – lots of explaining had to be done. One of the best concerts of my entire life!