It Might Get Loud is a documentary chronicling a “summit” between guitarists The Edge (U2), Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), and Jack White (White Stripes). They chat about their pasts and development as guitarists in a warehouse while sharing some of their classic riffs. Remote locations with each guitarist are also included to provide some backstory. 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. It is an animated 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. 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 doesn’t happen with music DVD productions often.
The best thing a documentary like this can accomplish beyond being informative is having some moment(s) of magic. Think Rattle, Hum, and BB King telling the Edge, “I’m not good with chords!” Or, in Hail Hail Rock and Roll, Keith Richards teaches Chuck Berry how to “play Chuck Berry.” Fergie and Mick sang Gimme Shelter with U2 backing them in the 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 of Jack White and The Edge, begins chiming out a fat, 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 in the documentary. That scene alone makes it a must for any fan of music DVDs.
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 rock’s great players. He 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 wished they had spent more time with Page and the Edge instead of White.
Documentaries are hard to critique because the documentary gets what it gets in terms of footage. There is no script, and wanting more out of these guys might be how 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 of what they capture. I 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 wants to be.