This rockumentary film directed by Davis Guggenheim, brings together three of the most timeless figures of the guitar from three different generations. It explores the lives, musical careers and playing styles of Jimmy Page (known for his contributions to The Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin), The Edge (of U2) and Jack White (of The White Stripes and later The Raconteurs.)
The first generation of guitarists documented centers around Jimmy Page, whose collective album sales with The Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin are estimated at 300 million. The film traces his history back to playing in skiffle bands as a child, taking a sabbatical from music to attend art school, and his later musical revival by doing session work. Having become discouraged the lack of creative outlet involved in playing other people’s music, he began to compose and play for The Yardbirds and later Led Zeppelin, from which point his career as an international superstar springboarded.
“Ramble On” from Led Zeppelin II
The Edge comments that his first experience with the guitar was building a guitar with his brother, with whom he formed the band U2. In the film he shares the anecdote of the adquisition of his guitar, the Gibson Explorer, and displays his impressively equipped and versitle arsenal of guitar effects and gives a demonstration of how he can play the most simplistic lines and the effects fill all of the empty space.
The Edge gives a demonstration of his guitar rig
The youngest generation of guitarists is represented in the film by Jack White of The White Stripes and The Raconteurs. He traces his musical beginnings to the slums of Detroit, where his dedication to music is best represented by the fact that he used to sleep on a piece of foam and kept two drumsets in his room instead of a bed. He shares his favorite song, a blues track by Son House, “Grinnin’ in your Face which features no instruments: just one man singing and clapping. He shares how the recording’s ability to move him emotionally in spite of its simplicity challenged his conception of music, which ultimately shaped his musical philosophy of limiting and challenging himself in unorthodox ways to foster the development of new approaches to music.
Son House, “Grinnin’ in your Face”
The film received favorable reviews, described by Rotten Tomatoes as, “An affectionate tribute to rock’s most distinctive instrument, It Might Get Loud is insightful and musically satisfying” (Rottentomatoes.com) Beyond the critical acclaim enjoyed by the film, it widely contributed the music industry by increasing awareness of the three musicians, and the guitar’s role as an instrument and the many different possibilities that it offers.
It climaxes at the end when the thee guitarists meet face to face, discuss their techniques, and play each others’ songs. It concludes with a powerful improvised version of The Band’s, “The Weight”