Putting together three of rock music’s most legendary guitar players into the same room, the documentary It Might Get Loud is an exploration into the various innovations and timeless relevance of the instrument. U2’s The Edge, White Stripe and Raconteur Jack White and Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page assemble for an improvised summit that seeks to understand how the electric guitar came to define blues and rock, and where it may be leading the music of the future.
Following The Edge around the dark and mysteriously beautiful landscapes of Ireland, the viewer gets a personal sense of how the instrument became a resonating voice for him and his native land. Snippets of U2 performances include the songs, "Bullet the Blue Sky," "Where the Streets Have No Name," and "Sunday Bloody Sunday." It is on "Sunday" that The Edge relates his cathartic struggle to achieve triumph over tragedy through the art of composition. Jack White reflects on his youth and upbringing inside the inner city ruins of Detroit, Michigan. His apprenticeship in the upholstery business led to an exhaustive schooling in the dynamics of the blues (a favorite is Son House) and punk rock. Jimmy Page shares his origins with skiffle, a ramped up rockabilly style popularized in England that subsequently led to the beginning of the Beatles and the first British wave. Page’s skills on guitar made him a legendary for hire session man. And, with the emotional turbrulence that ensued, Page turned inward to produce a breakout run of success with the Yardbirds and Zeppelin.
Together, the trio seem like a motley collection of blood brothers on a mission to reconnect their love of various stringed arrangements that center around favorite electric guitars, and the amplified rhythms buried deep inside them. The result is an exhilarating trip that educates and amazes. Produced by Thomas Tull and Lesley Chilcott, and directed with a passionate inclusiveness by expert cameraman Davis Guggenheim, It Might Get Loud never wears out its welcoming sense of revisionism over 98 minutes. Loud, driving guitar rock music may not live forever, but it will always connect as long as great movies like It Might Get Loud endure.
It Might Get Loud is out now on Sony Pictures.