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Shine A Light - Preview and Berlin reaction

Shine A Light

Preview by Jack Foley

IF THERE’S one thing you can pretty much guarantee from anything Rolling Stones related – it’s that it’ll be done in style.

The veteran rockers don’t do anything by half measures, whether its touring constantly to defy their ages, or agreeing to allow one of the world’s greatest film directors to gain unprecedented access to their concert preparations.

Shine A Light, a new documentary from Oscar-winner Martin Scorsese, captures unique footage of the band in action during their most recent A Bigger Bang Tour, as well as rare archive footage of the band’s history (mostly in the form of interviews).

Scorsese used 26 cameras to capture Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood in action at New York’s Beacon Theater in 2006 as part of a long-cherished project that afforded him a up-close look at one of his biggest musical influences.

The film that results opened the 2008 Berlin Film Festival to virtually widespread acclaim and brought some rock ‘n’ roll-style verve to a usually straight-laced event. Shine A Light is the first non-fiction film to open a major film festival and its selection attracted widespread attention, particularly as the Stones themselves joined Scorsese for the red carpent event.

The BBC reported that present day footage of the Stones in action “had critics gripped”, with Scorsese’s grainy close-ups and fluid camera angles successfully “capturing the sheer raw energy of this band, more than 40 years after they started”.

The reporter even noted that critics who confessed to not liking the band’s music had stayed to the end, such was the impressive nature of the filmmaking and the verve and passion with which the Stones went about their business.

There was also plenty of humour to be found: most particularly in archive interview footage and behind-the-scenes footage of the director tearing his hair out over not being handed a set list with an hour to go. Jagger is seen to joke in the trailer that it’s the nature of rock ‘n’ roll!

US critics who attended the event were also positive in their reviews, with Variety stating it’s “a gas, gas, gas”, and the Hollywood Reporter praising it for “capturing the very essence of the Stones in performance” – even though it didn’t quite live up to the high standards set by U2’s forthcoming 3D experience.

Commenting on his reasons for making the film, Scorsese told the Berlin press that he had long been fascinated by the nature of their music, which was “something that has inspired me constantly throughout the years”.

He added: “Whenever I saw the show I’d get excited – I wanted to get a camera up there.We tried to get as close as possible to the energy of a live concert.”

Legendary guitarist Keith Richards, meanwhile, praised the director’s unobtrusive approach to filming and was impressed by what the director “had come up with”.

Scorsese himself is set to follow Shine A Light with another music documentary on the life of reggae legend Bob Marley, which is currently scheduled for release in 2010.

Authorised by Bob Marley’s family, the as yet untitled film is set for release on February 6, 2010 – the date that would have been his 65th birthday. The influential singer died of cancer in 1981.

Shine A Light opens in UK cinemas on April 11, 2008.