It Might Get Loud is the most exciting documentary based around the electric guitar over the past forty years. Yes, that pretty well sums it up.
However, if you want to know more about the film, then read on. There has been a lot of controversy over why each of these artists were chosen for the film, but director Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth) hand-picked three influential rock guitarists from their respected generations.
Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin. The Edge from U2. Jack White from The White Stripes (and The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather, etc.) In this film you’ll listen to Page explain how he’s always been focused on the dynamics that an electric guitar can provide and he gives a clear example while playing “Ramble On” and how the song moves from quiet parts to loud to quiet again, etc. The “whisper and thunder” as he calls it.
The Edge brings his mad-scientist use of guitar pedals, pick-ups and sound effects to take a guitar note to a place it has never traveled before. His guitar tech explains how The Edge will rarely ever use the same sounds in twenty three songs, night after night on tour.
Jack White says that technology is responsible for removing emotion and truth, which is why he prefers to keep his music based on the simple structures of the blues, though swirling new ideas and elements around this base.
Throughout the film you learn a little bit more about each musician’s background and current music situations, but usually for only about five minutes per artist before they jump over to another one, just to keep things fresh.
Admittedly, I’ve never paid a lot of attention to The Edge as far as guitarists go, but after seeing the precision and focus he puts into his playing and effects, I gained a lot more respect for him. We all know that Jimmy Page is a guitar god, but some were a little unsure as to why Jack White was in the film. Recently I heard a local classic rock morning show DJ saying he wasn’t really into White, but after seeing the film, he now thinks that Jack White really is the real deal.
Guggenheim does a wonderful job keeping this film pure as you won’t learn about Jack White’s home life, or what The Edge likes to do on a Sunday afternoon with his kids. Instead the focus stays on the guitar and the music. While seeing rare, old footage of U2 back in their glam rock days is funny, it’s hearing the passion in The Edge’s voice on how punk rock in the 70s changed his life and pointed him towards the guitar. Or watching Jimmy Page give that sly “Yeah, that’s it” look when he plays “Rumble” by Link Wray [Think Pulp Fiction after the milkshake gets tasted and then Mia and Vincent experience an “uncomfortable silence.”] And you really get to see the soul in Jack White as he listens intently to “Grinnin’ In Your Face” by Son House (on vinyl, of course), proclaiming it to be his favorite song of all time and explaining why it influenced him.
Then the bread and butter of the film: Watching them each jam out together. Jack teaches them how to play “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground,” and The Edge has them all strumming “Where the Streets Have No Name.” But watching White and The Edge in plain awe as Page shreds “Whole Lotta Love” right before their eyes really reflects just how powerful that moment was for them. The three of them each take turns laying down their best slide guitar licks during “In My Time of Dying” and when the song was over, I noticed that my back had been arched and tensed up the entire time, to give you an idea of how amazing it was to watch these three rock legends perform together in such an intimate setting.
It Might Get Loud is an incredibly inspirational film for anyone who is looking for the confidence to believe in themselves to excel at something (especially an art) but isn’t quite sure that reaching for their goals is an achievable task. Fans of these musicians’ respected bands will appreciate the film, but it’s the guitar fans who will probably thrive the most because they’re going to learn a lot of the tricks and inspirations behind three guitarists that they might not even know they have respect for yet. At the very least, it’s a rare chance to see old, vintage footage of Led Zeppelin in the their prime…
The film is already open in a few select cities but many more will be added to that list this weekend. Check here to see when it will be in your area.
All images courtesy of www.sonypictures.com