It Might Get Loud
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One is famous for performing one of rock music’s most iconic guitar solos. One is recognized for his distinctive, effects-heavy riffs. One is a white kid from Detroit, known for his bluesy, stripped-down sound. They’re three very different musicians from three generations—each with his own style and perspective—but they share the same passion. And on one day in January of 2008, the three of them—Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin, The Yardbirds), The Edge (U2), and Jack White (The White Stripes, The Raconteurs)—sat down together to talk, to share, and, of course, to play.

Director Davis Guggenheim (who won an Oscar for his last documentary feature, An Inconvenient Truth) spends time with the three guitarists, both individually and as a trio, and the result is a loving ode to the electric guitar—and an awe-inspiring experience that no music lover should miss.

On their own, each of the three talk about their influences and share their views and philosophies while taking viewers to their favorite places—and to the places that have influenced their careers.

Page’s passion is unmistakable. His face lights up when he picks up his guitar—and he can hardly contain his joy as he plays his favorite recordings. Meanwhile, he shares every step in his lengthy career—from his early days as a session musician in the ‘60s to his musical freedom with Led Zeppelin.

Reserved, laid-back Edge shares his love of technology, showing how he uses effects pedals to create any sound he can imagine. He also talks about U2’s history, wandering through the hallways of the school where he and his legendary band mates met, practiced, and played their first gig. He even plays some original demos—with Bono counting out the rhythm in the background.

And dark, theatrical White talks about his childhood and his discovery of blues artists like Son House. He shares his favorite recordings and talks about his ongoing battle against technology as concert footage plays on the screen.

Each of the three offers his own unique perspective; each has something interesting to offer. White, however, seems like a strange choice for rounding out this power-house trio. Though he’s certainly talented, the relative newcomer seems out of place. Even he seems to be aware of the disparity as he makes his way to the session, awkwardly playing the tough guy. Of the three, White obviously still has the most to prove, which could explain why he comes off as having a chip on his shoulder, while the other two feel more like a couple of old friends, just meeting up for a pint.

Still, whatever your opinion or feelings for these three musicians, you’re sure to walk out of the theater with a new understanding and appreciation for each one’s talent and style. Each individual interview is part history lesson, part music lesson—and the archive footage of history in the making is guaranteed to give you chills. And the music, of course, is incredible. At times, you’ll just want to sit back and close your eyes, to soak it all in.

Meanwhile, the footage of the three together, sharing stories, comparing notes, and (best of all), standing in a circle, playing their favorite guitars (and sometimes singing), is simply stunning. It’s nothing fancy. No flash or effects—just three guys in the middle of a warehouse. But it’s breathtaking stuff. It’s so captivating, in fact, that, after it ended, I found myself wishing that I could stay in the theater and watch it again.

It Might Get Loud is a simple but awe-inspiring documentary that’s a must-see for aspiring rock stars and music lovers alike. But don’t see it in just any old theater; be sure to find one with a crisp, clear sound system. Because it does get loud—and the last thing you’ll want is static and distortion while Page plays “Stairway.”

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