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It Might Get Loud (2009) ****

March 15, 2010


produced by: Thomas Tull, Davis Guggenheim, Lesley Chilcott, Peter Afterman
Jimmy Page

directed by: Davis Guggenheim

Rated PG for mild thematic elements, brief language and smoking.

98 min.

U.S. release date: August 14, 2009

DVD & Blu-Ray release date: December 22, 2009


If you’re a musician, a music aficionado, and a fan of the electric guitar….this movie is for you! If the image of Jack White, The Edge and Jimmy Page sitting around talking about their work AND jamming….yes, playing together….this is especially for you! This movie wasn’t nearly long enough for me. This new doc from Davis Guggenheim (Oscar winner for Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth”) doesn’t touch on the history of the guitar (as it’s being promoted) but better yet the history of guitar in the lives of these three artists.

The best thing Guggenheim does is get out of the way and let these guys do all the talking, even to each other. When we see The Edge ask Page about how he does a riff and then Page proceeds to play that riff as a smiling White looks on, well it just feels like you’ve been invited to a rare moment. Their passion, drive and love for playing and music is contagious. They discuss their histories, influences, and styles over a three-day summit in January 2008. Since they all come from various backgrounds and generations, it is quite revealing to see the film go back to places that contributed to their journey.


Locales like the streets of South Detroit where Jack White grew up, Headley Grange where Page reveals how “When The Levee Breaks” came together, and The Edge taking us back to Mount Temple School where it all started, all resonate with their own personal nostalgia. The film goes fluidly gives each musician enough screen time that conveys their interests and process. Guggenheim delivers not only what fans want but also gives enough to get anyone foreign to these guys into their music. The standout scenes are really just seeing these guys play together. Their awe, enjoyment and giddiness comes through when they all jam on songs like “I Will Follow”, “Whole Lotta Love” and “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground”. And who doesn’t want to see that? The film closes with the three of them covering The Band’s “The Weight”, a scene that shows that they really are still just guys who like to sit around and jam out some sweet covers.


5 Comments leave one →
  1. Sandy permalink
    March 16, 2010 9:48 am

    Super amazing. I’ve seen it twice and Jack White totally steals the show. The surrealist/passionate/ambiguous angle he comes to the guitar at is really fascinating. I just didn’t want it to end…and then it did. Sad.

    • David J. Fowlie permalink*
      March 16, 2010 10:23 am

      Yes! And it was a real treat to see him interract with The Edge and Page. They were as taken by him as he was by them. I haven’t checked the Special Features on the DVD but I hope it includes more jam session time with the three of them.

  2. mATtHeW gRAmITh permalink
    March 17, 2010 12:41 pm

    What a treat! It never really felt like it was a straight biography of these 3 icons, but that their bios served a more tender purpose – basically to send out a sweet love letter to the guitar. A must see for any guitarist. A beautiful film for all music lovers and those who sometimes feel moved in any way by the creative spirit. I really liked the songwriting parts.
    In the extras, I think, Edge tells us how the U2 band members got their nicknames. I liked hearing that. Maybe fans would have already knew, but something about Edge telling us while driving in a car that just seemed so human. It was an true insider’s moment, not some little tidbit found in a glossy magazine, lifebeat section of a paper, or fan site. I guess that kinda captures the feeling of the whole film. Mostly. There were those highly stylized Jack White parts, which…I guess as the younger man maybe felt the need to bolster up his rock star status with a little deploying of his rock star image. Eh, he’s a true talent…a true artist…and a breath of mostly fresh air in an otherwise fairly stale decade in pop music. As the representation of current, young guitarists it makes sense for him to be a little more into image promotion mode than the other two. And he certainly brought substance as well as his style to the film.
    It’s been about 6 or 7 weeks since I saw it. There was something Jack White said, I’m not sure now if it was within the structure of the film proper, or maybe it was during the Q & A at…was it the Toronto Film Festival?…..
    …anyway, it’s given me a lot to think about. I’m paraphrasing, but he said more or less that to write a good song one must find a conflict within oneself. If you don’t have one, he says, make one up. That really strikes a cord with me. That is the kind of thing one hears about literary and screenplay writing, but I don’t think I’ve heard a songwriter go there. I course, it makes complete sense.

    • David J. Fowlie permalink*
      March 19, 2010 8:59 am

      Have you checked out Van Leer Rose? The Loretta Lynn album that Jack White produced and played on? That is a thing of beauty! As to that quote you mention at the end there, that sounds about right. I see conflict in many of my favorite songwriters: Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Patti Smith & Lou Reed, to name a few. It’s also revelant in much of the old folk and blues music that layed the foundation for all these artists. Conflict equals stakes and stakes makes it all real and tangible be it screenplay or a song.

  3. mATtHeW gRAmITh permalink
    March 19, 2010 10:55 am

    I forgot Jack White produced that Loretta Lynn record! I’ll check it out!
    Yeah, “having stakes” is a great, kinda visceral descriptor to remind us of a reason to care, and is a big part, in literature and films, of the story arc, character arc, and dramatic structure, none of which could exist without conflict. “Stakes” is good shorthand for those behind the curtain story elements. Another thing that I think may be of equal and primary importance, is that a subjective sense of conflict also gives the artist a reason to get passionate about something in the first place. It’s the purpose behind the art. It’s the reason for the creative spark.
    As I think about the stages of dramatic structure, Freytag’s pyramid say’s – exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution…. songs do often follow that structure, more or less, and not just lyrically. I’m guessing this is obvious to good songwriters, but I’m only just now figuring it out!

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