It Might Get Loud is a documentary chronicling a “summit” between guitarists The Edge (U2), Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), and Jack White (White Stripes). In a warehouse they chat about their pasts, development as guitarists, while sharing some of their classic riffs between them. Remote locations with each guitarist are also included in order to provide some back story.The movie is directed by Inconvenient Truth director Davis Guggenheim and is available on DVD and Blu Ray from Sony Pictures Classics. It is 98 minutes long.
The DVD cover is plastered with great reviews. To be fair it is a zippy documentary. Both the Edge and Jimmy Page come across as lovely blokes. Jimmy Page looks fabulous with his trench coat, silver mane of hair, and ultra dark sunglasses. Clearly he is the coolest of the bunch. We should all look so good at 65. The Edge is the most accessible, equaling the cool of Page, yet seemingly unaffected by his success. If there is ego in that guy, it’s not in the documentary. Then there is Jack White. More on him later.
This is a documentary I wanted to like more than I did.
Still, any musician or fan of rock guitar would enjoy this highly budgeted and flawlessly produced documentary. Quality like this just doesn’t happen with music DVD productions often.
The best thing a documentary like this can accomplish beyond being informative on the subject is having some moment(s) of magic. Think Rattle and Hum and BB King telling the Edge, “I’m not good with chords!” Or, in Hail Hail Rock and Roll Keith Richards teaching Chuck Berry how to “play Chuck Berry.” Fegie and Mick singing Gimme Shelter with U2 backing them in RRHOF 25th Anniversary Concert. All pure magic!
There is one such moment in It Might Get Loud. It is where Jimmy Page, standing in front Jack White and The Edge, begins chiming out a fat and distorted “whole lotta love” emerges from his Les Paul. The delight and respect deferred to Pagey by the other two guitarists is a wonderfully spontaneous moment captured on the documentary. That scene along makes it a must for any fan of music DVD.
My disappointment comes from the inclusion of Jack White. He’s a great singer, good lyricist, and guitarist in the blues-based riff-oriented tradition of most of rocks great players. He just isn’t on par with Page or The Edge as a guitarist – and it appears he thinks he is. He’s articulate – to a point – but whatever ego is missing in Page and the Edge is all there with Jack White. This was annoying to me, and I found myself wishing they spent more time with Page and the Edge instead of White.
Documentaries are hard to critique because the documentary gets what it gets it terms of footage. There is no script and wanting more out of these guys might just be the way it is. Not everyone is articulate, historically accurate, and self-editing to ensure flow and relevance during the documentary. The director and editor have to make the best with what they capture. I just wish they got more out of Page and The Edge. More sounds, more stories, more guitar interplay. I know there’s more out of those guys.
It Might Get Loud is a different and slightly intimate look at two legends of guitar, and one who clearly wants to be.