Ulrich: Moving movie is testament to music
Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich has hailed moving movie Mission to Lars as a testament to the importance of music in people’s lives.
The documentary tells the story of Tom Spicer, a 40-year-old Metallica fan with severe learning difficulties whose ambition in life is to meet his hero Ulrich.
After feeling like they’ve never got close to their sibling, Tom’s sister Kate and brother Will decide to make his dream come true – and in doing so learn as much about themselves as they do about Tom.
The film was made without the direct support of Metallica, but hinges on the moment when Tom finally comes face-to-face with Ulrich.
The drummer says: “Meeting Tom and Kate when they came out to film was an experience in itself. But seeing the film and reconnecting with the team was another experience.
“It’s not something we’re directly involved in – it’s their journey. We didn’t want to take it over and turn it into some kind of vanity project.
“It’s a great testament into a world I didn’t know much about, and a great testament to the importance of music and what it means to different people.”
Tom suffers from Fragile X syndrome, the most common cause of learning disability. He lives in a care home in Devon, UK.
Kate says: “For over 20 years, whenever I saw Tom he asked: ‘When am I going to meet Lars?’
“It’s easy to grow apart from a disabled sibling and enjoy your ‘normal’ sibling more. Will and I felt we’d been rib bus with Tom and we wanted to do something amazing for him.
“When he hit the road Will and I started to argue – at least once a day we’d have screaming rows. Tom hates conflict. We realised that far from being the trip of a lifetime for him, it was an unending nightmare.”
Tom came close to refusing to go through with meeting Ulrich, and he was extremely uncomfortable while the family were kept waiting backstage.
Kate explains: “He was refusing to do anything, without the language skills to explain why. We realised how little we knew about our brother. We needed to listen to him.”
The point was hammered home when an expert told them Tom’s condition meant he suffered from over-sensitive hearing – and yet they’d ignored him when he’d asked for earplugs at Metallica shows.
Mission to Lars – which included the moment when Tom and Ulrich finally meet – has received glowing reviews. British TV presenter Claudia Winkleman says: “If you don’t love this film I’ll give you a fiver.”