Film It Might Get Loud

January 1, 2010

IT MIGHT GET LOUD Maybe it’s the seemingly endless number of live music performances that you can watch at a whim on YouTube. Or perhaps moviemakers just don’t think younger audiences are interested in seeing films that feature their favorite rock and pop stars. Music-oriented films appear to be on the decline and nobody seems all that worried about bringing them back. And that’s why it’s surprising that the suits at Sony Pictures Classics could get excited enough to give a thumbs-up to making a film that centers around the idea of putting Jimmy Page, Jack White, and the Edge in a room together and having them expound on guitar playing and music. It sounds like something you might see while surfing the channels during a PBS fundraising drive, but that’s precisely what happens in this new film by director Davis Guggenheim, who presents a captivating and voyeuristic journey into the lives of these three very different guitarists.

The interplay between these guys is offthe- cuff and their individual characters are true to form: Page is the high priest of rock, White is the possessed channeler of Son House, and the Edge is the thoughtful sonic artisan. The premise of them getting together at a soundstage to rap and trade guitar licks—which finally leads to threeway jam on “The Weight”—is only part of the story, however, as each in turn revisits locations that were influential in their lives. For Page, it’s the mansion at Headley Grange in East Hampshire, where Led Zeppelin IV was recorded—he even details how the mics were set up in one of the halls to get the huge drum sound on “When the Levee Breaks.” White goes to the neighborhood in Southwest Detroit where he grew up, and then takes us to an old farmhouse in Tennessee where he writes and records a song in minutes on a reel-to-reel deck. The Edge revisits the school where he and three friends who would become U2 first met and started playing together. If you think you’ve seen it all when it comes to “rockumentaries,” just the images of White nailing a pickup into a one-string plank guitar with a Coke bottle for a bridge and Page playing “air” guitar while he spins the Link Wray song “Rumble,” make It Might Get Loud something you won’t want to miss.

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