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New Film Unites Guitar Gods

The Edge, Jimmy Page and Jack White join forces in documentary

Rolling Stone IN Oct 08, 2008

RD/ Leon / Retna Digital

In the middle of the rock documentary It Might Get Loud, Jimmy Page picks up a Les Paul and tears into ”˜Whole Lotta Love’ while the Edge and Jack White watch, slack-jawed. “They look just like 13-year-old boys,” says director Davis Guggenheim. “They were both like, ”˜Oh, my God, that’s how he did it!’ ” The movie ”“ which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival on September 5th and will get a theatrical release next year ”“ chronicles the pan-generational trio’s lives in music and the relationship that each of them has to the guitar. The high point of the film is a two-day union of the three on an LA soundstage, where they swap stories and jam. “It’s almost like having three carpenters talk about a radial-arm saw,” says White. “It’s great to use this mechanical device to learn all about these other ideas that surround it.”

It Might Get Loud is the brainchild of Guggenheim, who directed the Academy Award-winning An Inconvenient Truth, and Dark Knight producer Thomas Tull. The pair wanted to make a movie that avoided the Behind the Music clichés of overdoses, infighting and groupies. “No movie I’ve seen captures what is so transcendent about the guitar,” says Tull. “Why is this particular instrument the symbol of rock?” The filmmakers made a short list of musicians to focus on, with Page, the Edge and White at the top. “We wanted players from different eras, with different styles and approaches,” says Tull.

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Before the summit, all three were interviewed and filmed in their hometowns. The Edge brought a camera crew to his Dublin high school, where U2 first met and played together. In London, Page reminisced about his days as a session player for hire. And White let cameras trail him for an entire day in Nashville as he wrote and recorded a song from start to finish.

When the trio finally meet, they sit down and play. “There’s a scene where Edge teaches Jack and Jimmy ”˜I Will Follow,’ ” says Guggenheim. “It’s very spare and punk, and Page is mystified by it. He’s saying to Edge, ”˜Are you sure about that C?’” On the last day of shooting, the trio surprised the filmmakers with an acoustic rendition of the Band’s ”˜The Weight,’ with the Edge and White swapping vocals. “Thankfully,” adds Tull, “we had the cameras on.”

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