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Shine a Light
2 reviews

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Movie Details

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Directed By
Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Jack White, Bill Clinton, Charlie Watts, Rebecca Merle, Buddy Guy, Kimberly Magness, Igor Cherkassky, Michael Ciesla, Ron Wood, Christina Aguilera, Byrdie Bell

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Shine a Light (2008)
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Movie Review by Jarrod
April 10th, 2008

'Shine a Light' completes a trilogy of music documentaries from Martin Scorsese; the previous two were The Last Waltz and No Direction Home; about The Band and Bob Dylan respectively. Now, the subject is The Rolling Stones, one of my favorite rock groups, so I was bound to enjoy this. Scorsese has used Stones songs in many of his films, most recently The Departed. The Stones have been together since 1962, this year will mark their 46th anniversary. Brian Jones was the original founder and lead singer, but Mick Jagger eventually took over that role, and Jones died in 1969. Jagger, as a frontman, is known for his energetic stage persona; it is amazing what he is still able to do even at 64. This film showcases their most recent tour, promoting the album A Bigger Bang, more politically charged than many of their others.

The concert footage has been brilliantly and beautifully captured by Scorsese and his marvelous team of cinematographers, headed by Robert Richardson. Archival images are also used, and the purpose of this seems to be to emphasize the agelessness and timelessness of the Stones themselves, who have not really changed all that much in four decades, except they look older, and there has been a few reshufflings with new members dropping in and out, periods of bad management but never any apparent commercial setbacks. The music is expectedly wonderful, with a series of classic tracks, as well as newer material I was not very familiar with, and there are also collaborations with Jack White, blues legend Buddy Guy, and Christina Aguilera. There are multiple celebrities one could catch glimpses of in the audience, but most of the attention is drawn to Bill and Hillary Clinton. Jagger has often said he found inspiration from the early pioneers of blues, jazz, and rock 'n' roll, all of whom were black, which is why these forms of music were considered subversive influences for young white Americans, at least until, especially for rock 'n' roll, Elvis, Buddy Holly, and the Beatles all helped to make it more accessible to mainstream audiences, mostly teenagers at malt shops, but each of these artists gained popularity by appearing on TV shows like Ed Sullivan, where Elvis was famously filmed only from the waist up, because of his hip-shaking.

One of Jagger's idols was James Brown; on more than occasion, he mentioned how much he was changed by "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag". Jagger, like Michael Jackson and countless others, undoubtedly borrowed heavily from Brown. Billie Holliday, Etta James, Aretha Franklin, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Ray Charles, Muddy Waters, and BB King. My own personal stash of records is filled with some of these legends, but also with Sam Cooke, Al Green, Marvin Gaye, and Otis Redding. The Rolling Stones would not exist without the contributions and creative sacrifices of these people. And that they have endured shows their ability to adapt to changing trends, like Bowie, and this has allowed them never to go out of style or become irrelevant. I have only been to one Stones show, and would like to go to another, and since it seems they will outlive me, I may get that chance. I don't know if 'Shine a Light' is better than Gimme Shelter, the 1970 film that focused primarily on the notorious Altamont concert, where the Hell's Angels provided security. But 'Shine a Light' is certainly meticulously and lovingly crafted, made by a fan for fans, but for just about anyone else, as well.

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