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The White Stripes Under Great White Northern Lights (2010) ***1/2

March 14, 2010

Produced by: Ian Montone and Mike Sarkissian

Directed by: Emmett Malloy

Not Rated

93 min.

U.S. Release Date: March 2010 (South By Southwest Film Festival 2010)

Jack White, easily one of the most prolific musical artists of the last decade, is back on the big screen with his ex-wife/drummer band mate Meg White for the new Emmett Malloy documentary “The White Stripes Under Great White Northern Lights”.  Jack White, the Nashville-based rocker by way of Detroit, is responsible for many popular rock acts (including The White Stripes, The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather) and producing over 25 albums in the 2000s.  After having produced a concert film called “White Stripes: Under Blackpool Lights” in 2004, “Northern Lights” documents the duo’s 2007 tour across Canada.  Anyone who knows The White Stripes knows that their concerts are intense and passionate, but will “Northern Lights” bring any new insights or inside information to the fans?

In short, yes.  Malloy’s super-stylish documentary follows the “brother sister” rock band (a rumor started by The White Stripes because it’s “more interesting”…) on their quest to play shows in every province and territory in Canada.  They decide not to play the “big cities” either, but to play to the crowds that don’t get a lot of music traffic.  Places like Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory, or Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories.  This makes for beautiful scenery and great spots for impromptu shows all over Canada, where fans have only a few minutes of notice before the band takes the stage.  Jack and Meg play shows in town squares, bowling alleys, public buses, cafés, a tribal elder council meeting and even a small boat just offshore.

At night, the Stripes play more conventional shows in support of their recent album release “Icky Thump”.  The small tour culminates in the band’s tenth anniversary show in Nova Scotia where relatives, locals, and even some old NHL stars attend the special concert.  In between concert footage, Malloy cross-fades shots of the beautiful Canadian scenery, interview footage and stories of the band’s upbringing.

With The White Stripes only having played live once in the last two or so years (only show was during the last week of Conan O’Brien’s stretch of “The Tonight Show), “Northern Lights” serves as a great moment-in-time snapshot of the band in their prime.  Being a huge fan, I obviously hope that the band comes back from their hiatus but if this were the final stamp on their time as a band, it would be fitting.  If you are a fan of The White Stripes, rock music or Emmett Malloy’s previous music documentaries (“Thicker Than Water”, “Please Experience Wolfmother: Live”, and “Jack Johnson en concert”), definitely plan on seeing this film.  “The White Stripes Under Great White Northern Lights” is available via video on demand right now through the end of April.

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 23, 2010 12:37 pm

    I will HAVE TO check this one out. Thanks Paul.

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