Movie Review: It Might Get Loud

Film: It Might Get LoudItmightgetloud
Genre: Documentary
Release: 2009 [limited]

Filmmaker David Guggenheim is one of the luckiest music fans to ever walk the face of the planet. Not only was he able to make a documentary about the history of the electric guitar and have it see theatrical release, but he was able to sit in a room with three of the most distinct guitar players of all time to do so. Jimmy Page [Of Led Zeppelin, The Yardbirds], Jack White [of The White Stripes, The Raconteurs], and The Edge [of U2] all come together under one roof to discuss the story of the cornerstone of rock and roll [the guitar], discuss their personal styles/tricks, and, almost above all, jam together in the new film, It Might Get Loud.

Now, I consider myself somewhat of a connoisseur of music documentaries. I have spent many a lazy day and late night staring at the stories of everything from the history of Jazz to the making of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, but I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a more beautifully shot film than It Might Get Loud. Every frame is filled with brilliant lighting, quick cuts, and delicate post-production work that makes everything feel as if you could reach out and grab it. It’s as close to literally being in the room with these rock Gods as 99.9999% of us will ever get and it couldn’t be more well shot.

The flow of the film itself is also something to take in. We’re given the well discussed story of the electric guitar by bouncing in and out of the back stories of Page, White, and The Edge. White starts things off by taking us to his home in Tennessee where we see him pounding on an old piano that lies atop even older floorboards and teaching a “young Jack White” to stomp on White’s signature guitar while White proclaims, “you have to pick a fight with music…and win.” Later, Page walks us through the house where the legendary IV was recorded and The Edge wonders Ireland giving us a visceral back story on U2’s start and rise.

However, as compelling as these individual stories are, most of the information has been covered in other various works about the artists. The real meat of this picture comes from footage shot on a Hollywood soundstage with all three legends sitting, chatting, and playing on their signature rigs. White strums old blues’ chords while Page and The Edge attempt to follow along, Edge educates the other two on his uyse of pedals and effects layering, and Page, well Jimmy Page really just is Jimmy Page [aka, extremely talented and obviously adored by White and Edge]. It’s in these scenes that we see the men behind the instruments. The inner children who first fell in love with music and how even now, after they’ve achieved the great “rock dream” of being famous, still have a passion for just messing around with their tools of the trade. It’s so intimate in fact, you’ll likely forget these men are A. being paid to be there and B. on a sound stage. Guggenheim somehow managed to make hanging out with true music Gods seem not only tangible, but completely manageable for seemingly everyone whose interested.

While most of the history and back stories in It Might Get Loud have been discussed at great length, the real meat of the film, the meeting of White, Edge, and Page, is simply engrossing. Again and again I found myself almost in disbelief at the sheer knowledge between these men and their continued passion for music at this point in their careers is a testament to their love of rock and roll.

This is a film for music fans by a music fan and i don’t know if anyone could do it better.

Score: 9.5/10

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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