It Might Get Loud is simply one of the best music documentaries I've seen, and I've seen plenty.
When I first read about this film months ago, I wondered how interesting it could be. The premise was simple: bring together three of the most influential and distinctive rock guitarists of the last half century - Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White - put them in a room filled with their instruments, and let them talk about how they make their music.
For a musician, that would have been fascinating enough, though maybe not so much for a general fan, but Davis Guggenheim's film is so much more than just musicians talking music. The documentary includes plenty of fascinating archival footage of the musicians from their teenage years on and returns with them to their home studios and sites where some of their most famous music was recorded.
There is no doubt about the quality of the musicianship represented. In Rolling Stone's rating of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time, The Edge is 24th, White is 17th and Page is 9th, and it's well-known that Page was a serious influence on the other two guitarists. In addition there is the fact that essentially three generations are represented, with Page being 64 years old, The Edge 47 and White 32 when the film was made in January 2008.
The differences in their approach to guitar playing is also vast, particularly between The Edge and Jack White. The Edge is, as Page calls him, a "sonic architect," working for months to perfect his sounds, often using minimalist chording run through a complex of loops, delays and effects.
White's playing is primitive, and he reveals himself completely when he plays an old recording of Son House singing "Grinnin' In Your Face," and comments that he has been "really just trying to play Son House, and we still are."
There are way too many highlights to mention in this short review, but for anyone who's ever tried to put a band together, they have to include The Edge's comments about U2's first rehearsals, "it was really, really bad." For myself, the look on The Edge's and Jack White's faces when Page rips into the intro to "Whole Lotta Love" was alone worth renting the just released DVD.