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HIFF ’Summer Docs’ Series Showcases ’It Might Get Loud’ At Guild Hall (And It Did!)

Originally Posted: August 01, 2009

Davis Guggenheim, Director of “It Might Get Loud," actress Elizabeth Shue and the evening's host Alec Baldwin prior to the film's start. Photos by Eileen Casey.

East Hampton - The Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF) continued its first ever "Summer Docs" series with the second film "It Might Get Loud" on Friday, July 31, at Guild Hall. The first film in the series was "The Cove," and the final summer film will be "William Kunstler: Disturbing The Universe." The "Summer Docs Series" is supported by American Airlines/Altour and The Maidstone.

Still from "It Might Get Loud" with Jack White, The Edge and Jimmy Page. Image courtesy of Google Images.

If you enjoy music and the sounds brought forth from the electric guitar from the hands and minds of three of the world's masters of the instrument, than this film will surely join the short list of must see music documentaries on everyone's list.

"It Might Get Loud," the title is from an utterance made by The Edge as a warning when he casually states in the film, "It might get loud for a few seconds," before gleefully blasting eardrums everywhere brings together three of music's electric guitar masters - Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), The Edge (U2) (David Evans for those of you who didn't know), and Jack White (White Stripes), to tell their personal stories, in their own words, as to the who, what, when and where that influenced each to develop their own style and sound. This is a personal, informative and revealing film of three generations of electric guitar virtuosos.

Quickly introducing the film, Ruth Appelhoff of Guild Hall, or as host of the Q&A following the film, Alec Baldwin joked, Ruth 'Applesauce," graciously acknowledged supporters, including the Peter Jay Sharp Foundation, among others, and Karen Arikian, Executive Director of HIFF. Everyone settled in to be entertained, and they were.

Director David Guggenheim with Karen Arikian, Executive Director of HIFF.

The film was directed by the talented Davis Guggenheim, who also directed "An Inconvenient Truth" with Al Gore in 2006. In this film Guggenheim brilliantly manages to cover the respective childhoods and careers of three of music's most respected and skilled musicians.

An invitation to the 'inner sanctum' is immediately established from the opening shot of White actually making a "guitar" with a glass soda bottle, copper wire, nails and a board, continuing throughout to the obvious joy on the face of Page as he plucks albums from his vast collection to put on a turntable to share the sounds of other artists whose music influenced him. The wizardry of technology that The Edge has embraced to derive a signature sound, all this and much more are a gift both these musicians and Guggenheim present to the viewer.

The film concentrates on the artist's musical rebellion, traveling with him to influential locations, provoking rare discussion as to how and why he writes and plays. This film lets you witness intimate moments and hear new music from each artist. The movie revolves around a day when all three first met and sat down together to share their stories, teach and play.

Lisa Robinson, Contributing Editor with Vanity Fair joined Baldwin and Guggenheim for a Q&A following the film presentation.

The archival footage from U2's early auditions to Page's early days as a studio musician to White's early gigs at a retiree home, where he introduces his sister whose is also his drummer, is interwoven seamlessly with the 'present day' shot in 2008. The span of decades in the lives of all three, particularly Page, allow the film to unfold effortlessly, and is sprinkled throughout the film.

There are so many candid and enthusiastic responses the three musicians derive from being together in a comfortable environment that the viewer becomes a participant, eagerly hoping that one or all will touch upon the history of a favorite tune, chord or riff that kept many in the audience nodding their heads thoroughly enjoying the "Aha - that's how he did it" moments.

Both simple and complex musicanship is revealed by all three in relaying their personal journey to discover as performers and craftsmen their own "Aha" moments and the roads each embarked on to achieve it. The personal glimpses into the lives of each from childhood recollections, in particular, White recalling that being the youngest of 10 children learning to improvise and share was necessary for survival is both touching and true as he shares with his own son, age 9, what he has learned and taught himself is simply lovely to witness.

Barbara Jo Howard, Director of Marketing and Communications for Guild Hall enjoys the evening.

This is not a film to be viewed once or twice, but repeatedly, as the nuances, revelations and candor of these three musicians is truly thought-provoking and enjoyable. One tip, however, stay seated and quiet through the end credits as there is information you won't want to miss. Friday's audience began to move and vacate the theater too quickly - making it difficult to catch what was being said.

If you enter the theater perhaps as a fan of just one or even two of these musicians prior to viewing this film, you will undoubtedly leave a fan, and feel like a friend of all three.

Immediately following the film, a Q&A steered by Baldwin was conducted with both Guggenheim and Lisa Robinson, Contributing Editor at Vanity Fair. Robinson, a long-time music columnist, whose career and personal history with both Led Zeppelin and U2, as well as many others among music's elite would also make a great documentary took to the stage to answer questions from the audience.

Patti Askwith Kenner, Guild Hall Trustee, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, and Ruth Appelhof, Executive Director of Guild Hall share a few laughs.

Robinson's comments on the film were direct, observant and interesting. She made particular mention regarding the accessibility of music nowadays with the internet, satellite radio, and iPods, that might contribute to the demise of a musician staying with the same band decade after decade, as did Page and The Edge. In contrast, in White's generation musicians played in a number of different bands during the course of their career. The astute observation was quite insightful.

When queried as to why Guggenheim chose these three guitarists, his answer was simple and straightforward, "We asked three and they said yes." He mentioned the 2003 "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" list compiled by Rolling Stone Magazine by clarifying that "This film was not about a rating of who is considered the greatest, it is about these three guitarists in particular and the generational span between them." For those truly interested in that list, however, Page is #9; White is #17, and The Edge is #24. According to the list, Jimi Hendrix was the #1 guitarist.

Christie Brinkley waves her tickets and shows her enthusiasm for an evening of film and music at Guild Hall.

Grateful acknowledgement must be made to both HIFF and Guild Hall for joining together to bring the "Summer Docs" series to the East End during the "season." Kudos too to host Baldwin whose commitment to his community is always displayed with grace, charm, humor and intellect.

According to Guggenheim Sony Pictures Classics will release the film in theaters on Aug. 14 in both New York and Los Angeles. So whether you actually play or "air guitar" is as close as you can master give yourself a treat and see this film.

For more information go to www.hamptonsfilmfest.org and www.guildhall.org.

Eileen Casey spent many years working in the television and music industries in New York City on the "ABC In Concert" weekly series, as well as several prime time network and cable television specials. An award-winning journalist, editor, and artist, and former Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com, she enjoys staying warm in Charleston and cool in the Hamptons.

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