Celine Dion Sobs in New Documentary Trailer: ‘If I Can’t Walk, I’ll Crawl’

Prime Video
Prime Video

I’d be lying if I said one of those corny phrases like, “I didn’t have ‘crying to a trailer for a Céline Dion documentary’ on my Bingo card for a Thursday morning.” Rose Dewitt Bukater has a better chance of still convincing us that Jack couldn’t fit on that door than I had fighting back tears at a preview for I Am: Céline Dion, in which the music supernova emotionally discusses the rare neurological disorder that’s forced her to step back from performing. Of course I’d be crying.

There are more self-aggrandizing celebrity biographical documentaries these days than there are notes in a Céline Dion riff. But there’s something special about I Am: Céline Dion, at least as previewed in the trailer that was released Thursday morning. This isn’t a masturbatory celebration of a career past its climax. It’s a desperate plea for a career to continue, made by a woman so frustrated by this debilitating disease that she breaks down and sobs multiple times in the trailer.

Fittingly, the teaser for the film, which will be released on Prime Video on June 25, begins with Dion screaming out one of her signature, unmatched vocal wails. (“Is the sound man OK?” she jokes after.) It’s a reminder of what a powerhouse she is—and a cry for that gift, which is her lifeblood, to not abandon her. “My voice is the conductor of my life,” she says. “When your voice brings you joy, you’re the best of yourself. I need my instrument.”

In December 2022, Dion revealed that she had been diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder known as Stiff person syndrome, which causes muscle stiffness and painful spasms that worsen over time. According to the Columbia University Irving Medical Center, muscles “can be so rigid that they feel like a board” and spasms “can create enough force to break bones.”

As a result of her diagnosis—and her experience with her developing condition—Dion canceled her planned concert tour and told fans in an emotional Instagram video that it wasn’t clear if she’d ever be able to perform again.

If you have been to a Céline Dion concert, you know what a travesty this is. I’ll never forget seeing her standing on a pedestal ascending toward the rafters of the Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace, inching higher and higher as her voice crescendoed during the key change of “My Heart Will Go On.” A cascade of rain fell in a cylinder around her. As she hit the song’s huge money note, she whipped her beaded cape toward the sky, like wings carrying her through the vocal acrobatics. It was the closest I’ve been to seeing God.

I Am: Céline Dion crystallizes what a loss that is not just for us fans, but for Dion herself.

The first time my heart leaped up into my throat was when the trailer played a portion of the 911 call that presumably led to Dion’s eventual diagnosis. We’re shown a clip of that Instagram video in which she reveals her disease. And then we’re shown something remarkable: her resilience.

There is footage of her in rehab, stretching her body, occasionally wincing in pain. We see her break down after one session.

She discusses how difficult this has been for her. “It’s not hard to do a show, you know,” she says. “It’s hard to cancel a show. I’m working hard every day.” The next part is heartbreaking, as Dion’s voice catches, to the point that she can barely get her words out through her tears: “But I have to admit it’s been a struggle. I miss it so much. The people, I miss them. If I can’t walk, I’ll crawl. And I won’t stop. I won’t stop.”

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