It Might Get Loud – Review

It might get awesome is more like it.

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Director: Davis Guggenheim
Notable Cast:
The Edge, Jimmy Page, Jack White

It’s always fascinating when you put three masters of their craft from different generations into one room to chat about their craft. For guitarists there are plenty of people that can be considered masters, but getting one from each of the last three generations of guitarists before now seemed like an impossible task. Davis Guggenheim, whose previous documentary won an Oscar for perhaps dubious reasons (An Inconvenient Truth) has crafted one that will be hard to ignore in It Might Get Loud. For this, Guggenheim has assembled three pioneering guitarists of the last three great waves of music:

Jimmy Page – Formerly of The Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin, Page has been looked on by two generations of guitarists from Johnny Ramone to Eddie Van Halen.

The Edge – Also known as David Evans, The Edge has been part of the reason why U2 has been one of the biggest bands in the world for some time. His use of electronic methods, including delay, gives the band a unique sound that has persevered over the years.

Jack White – Founding member of both the White Stripes and the Raconteurs, White’s combination of old school blues with modern punk has made him one of the defining guitarists of the current generation.

And from there, Guggenheim lets them do two things: talk about their lives and play music. Interspersing their lives from boyhood to their current spot as famous musicians, it’s a fascinating look at the lives of three of rock music’s more pioneering musicians. All three are off the cuff and honest, discussing the routes they took to get them there. While neither of the controversies about their respective lives is discussed, there’s no room in this film for their flaws or for their personal lives. This is a film about craftsmen discussing their art; no more, no less. And Guggenheim lets them go and gives us the best of their conversation.

Seeing the three discuss their craft, and eventually playing together, is markedly interesting for all the right reasons. Seeing Page playing “Whole Lotta Love” from Zepellin and seeing The Edge and Jack White follow his lead, studying his movements like master chefs looking upon someone they know to be their superior, is must-see viewing. Then seeing Page watch White and The Edge like the old master seeing new tricks from his disciples is almost as good. And then seeing White and Page, the old master and the younger student, watch The Edge and his mastery of guitar gadgets as if he is the newest standard by which the current generation is judged is just as good. And seeing them just jam is fun as well.

All the while we get insights into their past using archival footage as well as guided tours of their past. Seeing The Edge at the school where U2 was formed, when they were children, is interesting because they juxtapose it against Page’s childhood as a musician with several bands in his youth as well as White’s lack of a band growing up in Detroit, Michigan, in the middle of a city caught up in the hip-hop movement.

It Might Get Loud, perhaps, but it definitely gets awesome.


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