After giving respective credit to The Band in “The Last Waltz” and Bob Dylan in “No Direction Home: Bob Dylan,” Oscar award winning director Martin Scorsese uses the camera to shine a directorially distinctive light on yet another of rock and roll’s musical giants, the Rolling Stones.
Shine a Light is a documentary that captures the unadulterated rhythm and blues driven intensity that is The Rolling Stones. Using live concert footage from a small and intimate venue setting in tandem with antique interview footage, Martin Scorsese was able to breathe directorial life into a band that simply had it coming.
The movie begins with both Scorsese and the Stones dealing with the planning stages of the show.
The semi-fictionalized introduction sees the band trying to determine what songs to play and the director is figuring out the best way to use the proximity of the venue to capture the risqu’eacute; elegance that the band will undoubtedly bring to the show.
In its entirety the film takes on more of a live concert experience feel rather than a straight forward documentary. The footage that makes up the main drag of the film is focused on two concerts that took place on Oct. 29 and Nov. 1 in 2006 at New York’s Beacon Theater during the Stone’s “A Bigger Bang Tour.”
Scorsese utilizes certain historical news clips and archival interviews in between the songs to help give the audience an understanding of where the Stones came from and where they had been.
Most of the songs that are played in the movie are not what some might have expected. Ironically there is even reference in the film by Mick Jagger to the fact that this might be the only Scorsese movie that doesn’t feature the song “Gimmie Shelter.”
However, the Stones do manage to play “Sympathy for the Devil” “Can’t Get No (Satisfaction)” and “Brown Sugar,” these are all songs that any Rolling Stones’ fan would want to hear because they make available the novelty of being able to see a band from another generation play timeless music that soon will not be able to be heard live.
The film also has a series of guest performers by artists such as Buddy Guy, Jack White and Christina Aguilera.
There were artists that seemed to be chosen for their ability to complement the sound or style that best illustrates the Stones, in the respective accompaniment.
Since the film is for the mostly live concert footage, it was ideal to have seen this movie in an IMAX movie theater. Some movies are meant to be seen on large screens with surround sound quality that can make the audience giddy with aural satisfaction.
With a film like “Shine the Light,” Scorsese accounted for this fact with attention to aural detail. Every note of song and every word of lyric could be perfectly heard and understood so nothing was lost to the audience. Scorsese succeeded in making a concert going experience available to all people for the price of a movie ticket.
This was a movie that really wasn’t a movie at all, but in reality a way to watch an awe-inspiring band like the Rolling Stones shine a light on music from the past with very satisfactory performances on all accounts.
This is a film that is definitely worth the time and effort to pay a $10 admission to see, especially if it is on IMAX. The Rolling Stones and Martin Scorsese are clearly a match that was meant to be.