Opening 27 Aug 2009
Anyone the least interested in popular music and the history of the electric guitar should run to this documentary (or rockumentary) which traces the rise of three giants in today’s music world: Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, The Edge (born David Howell Evans) of U2 and Jack White of The White Stripes. It easily accomplishes the goal of producer Thomas Tull; namely, to bring together the three best guitarists from three generations and show their relationship to their instruments. The camera team follows these three musicians, born in 1944, 1961, and 1975, respectively, to England, Ireland and the U.S. where they grew up and became famous. The musicians discuss their families (White was the youngest of 10 children), their practice rooms (The Edge moved tables in a school classroom), and options (Page almost chose art over music). They talk about their influences, e.g., the film Spinal Tap and musicians such as Bono, Robert Plant, and Meg White. Obviously, their greatest influence is their guitar. Whether it is their first, their most expensive or their most exotic, their electric guitar is nothing less than a love affair, something to be enjoyed, suffered, conquered, and understood.
At first the film can be a bit confusing when it jumps back and forth between the three men. But as you become more familiar with them, you will soon recognize their accents, cities, and mannerisms. Also, the rock-music world has its own vocabulary of which “amp” is simple compared to, e.g., “fuzz box.” Those are small problems, all worth sorting out in the end, when, as director Davis Guggenheim says, “I will never forget the faces of our film team when Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White turned up the amplifiers and began to jam.” This meeting of the rock stars in a simple sitting-room setting is the highlight of an interesting film which will leave you with a feeling of awe and appreciation. (Becky Tan)