Tuesday, September 8, 2009

It Might Get Loud (2009)

Rarely can a film penetrate the glamorous surface of rock legends. Davis Guggenheim's "It Might Get Loud" tells the personal stories, in their own words, of three generations of electric guitar virtuosos The Edge (U2), Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), and Jack White (The White Stripes). It reveals how each developed his unique sound and style of playing favorite instruments, guitars both found and invented. Concentrating on the artists musical rebellion, traveling with him to influential locations, provoking rare discussion as to how and why he writes and plays, this film lets you witness intimate moments and hear new music from each artist. The guitarists trade riffs and thoughts and at the end make their way through an acoustic rendition of “The Weight.”

The film premiered at the 2008 Toronto Film Festival, and played at both Sundance Film Festival and the Berlin International Film Festival in 2009.

Mr. Guggenheim spends some time following his subjects back to their roots, a fascinating journey into the musical past during which some notable commonalities emerge. Mr. Page, the Edge and Mr. White all honed their art in reaction to what they perceived as the dominant styles of the time.

Mr. Page came up playing skiffle, a peppy, folk-inflected genre that ruled British pop in the 1950s. After a successful stint as a studio session prodigy, he made his way to the Yardbirds and then to Led Zeppelin, where his interest in the blues, Eastern music and in the nuances of amplification reached full, thundering fruition.

The Edge, growing up in the downtrodden Dublin of the 1970s, discovered punk as an antidote to the bloated arena rock and fatuously shiny pop that saturated the airwaves. And Mr. White, in 1980s Detroit, wondered if hip-hop would permanently eclipse the instrumental sounds he cherished.

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