It Might Get Loud/Tiffany Johnston/1/17/09

The theater was filled with silhouettes of bobbing heads. Seats vibrated from uncontrollable foot tapping. Desperate latecomers stood in the back just happy to catch the world premiere of Davis Guggenheim‘s documentary It Might Get Loud.

Guggenheim is the Oscar winner director best known for An Inconvenient Truth. Before the screening Guggenheim thanked the crowd and told of his humble beginnings in film. Twenty years ago he packed up his car and drove down to LA and worked as a Production Assistant. His job was to drive the director around during the movie shoot. That director was Steven Soderbergh, and that movie was Sex, Lies, and Videotapes.

Twenty years later Guggenheim is back at Sundance with his documentary about the electric guitar. The film stars three iconic and legendary guitar greats: Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, U2‘s The Edge, and The White Stripe‘s Jack White. The three meet up and discuss their styles, influences, and favorite guitars. And of course an epic jam session takes place.

The film cuts back and forth between the current day meeting of the three, and each of the guitarist’s individual stories of their pasts. Each has an amazingly unique story to tell of their musical careers.  The film is full of unforgettable images and stories. In a comical analogy, Jimmy compares the crescendo in Stairway to Heaven to the intensity of an orgasm. The Edge tells how the movie This Is Spinal Tap made him want to weep, because it was so true. And footage of blood smeared on Jack White’s guitar as he rocks out during a guitar solo at a Raconteurs concert, evoked goosebumps.

Although, the documentary does include a good amount of  biographical material about the guitar legends, it ultimately is a tribute to the electric guitar. It is extremely successful because it uses three of the greatest guitar players, from different countries and generations, to tell the story of the electric guitar through their own stories.

During the jam session each of them take a turn teaching the group their favorite riffs and one of their songs. These are by far the most powerful moments in the documentary, and every viewer is going to be wishing there was more of the three just jamming.

Besides being excellently made, no surprise coming from Guggenheim, it gives the viewers a never before seen meeting of Jimmy, The Edge, and Jack.

Jack White joined Guggenheim at the premiere and answered some questions after the screening. He couldn’t express enough what an experience it was meeting Jimmy and The Edge and how much he learned from them. Jack was very humble and was hush hush about discussing what The Raconteurs are currently working on.

The film was a success at the Cannes and the Toronto film festivals, and it is already a favorite at this year’s Sundance.

It Might Get Loud was amazing. It was breathtaking. And IT WAS LOUD.