Peefeeyatko: A Look Inside the Creative World of Frank Zappa

In the last years of his life, Frank Zap­pa spent much of his remain­ing time doing what he loved best: com­pos­ing.

The 1991 doc­u­men­tary Peefeey­atko, by Ger­man-born film­mak­er and com­pos­er Hen­ning Lohn­er, takes us inside Zap­pa’s seclud­ed world to watch and lis­ten as he cre­ates sym­phon­ic com­po­si­tions on an ear­ly dig­i­tal syn­the­siz­er called a Syn­clavier. The film was made not long after Zap­pa learned he had ter­mi­nal can­cer. Like its sub­ject, Lohn­er’s film is eccen­tric, with scenes from mon­ster movies spliced in with footage of Zap­pa work­ing and talk­ing. “Peefeey­atko,” we learn at the end, is Big­foot-lan­guage for “Give me some more Apples.”

Zap­pa talks about his wide range of musi­cal tastes–how from an ear­ly age he would lis­ten to rhythm and blues one minute and the French exper­i­men­tal com­pos­er Edgard Verèse the next. The film includes inter­views with his fel­low avant-garde com­posers John Cage, Pierre Boulez, Ian­nis Xenakis and Karl­heinz Stock­hausen. To describe his rad­i­cal eclec­ti­cism, Zap­pa says: “The eas­i­est way to sum up the aes­thet­ic would be: any­thing, any­time, any­place for no rea­son at all. And I think with an aes­thet­ic like that you can have pret­ty good lat­i­tude for being cre­ative.”

Peefeey­atko runs 59 min­utes, and will be added to our expand­ing col­lec­tion of Free Movies Online.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Frank Zap­pa Debates Cen­sor­ship on CNN’s Cross­fire (1986)

A Young Frank Zap­pa Plays the Bicy­cle on The Steve Allen Show (1963)

John Cage Per­forms Water Walk on “I’ve Got a Secret” (1960)

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