U2 – Rattle and Hum (1988)

One of the greatest rock bands up close and personal.

Irish rockers U2 jam with blues master blues master B.B. King in director Phil Joanou’s documentary. The veteran music video director joined the band’s U.S.Joshua Tree tour, filming the 1980s rock icons as they sang with a gospel choir, recorded at Sun Records and made a pilgrimage to Graceland. B.B. King performs on “Angel of Harlem” and “When Love Comes to Town,” both included on U2’s subsequent album “Rattle and Hum.”

The film follows them from Scotland to their U.s Tour in 87. When going into a concert film you have to be asking yourself two questions. 1.Hows the music? and 2. How does it look?.

To answer the first question, the music is mostly recent U2 standard, and since this is a band that takes pride in the political content in their music it’s a surprise that throughout the film about 80% of the lyrics are impossible to understand. The only way you understand what the words are if you know all the songs lyrics by heart. I think the audience does and you can tell cause they sing a long and there’s no denigrating the power that U2 has over its fans.

Now onto the next question of how does it look?. The important thing is that almost all the concerts take place at night and were very poorly lighted for movie-making purposes.

Compared to other movies about rock bands this film is a mess, but a fun mess. The colors are good-looking I will say but they never change and stay the same the whole film and doesn’t change its look barely. The audience which is a big factor in all bands, was basically pushed out and the whole camera the whole time was focusing on U2 and forgetting about the audience.

However the one thing that really ticked me off was the band U2 themselves. You would think since they are one of the biggest bands in the world they would at least have something interesting to say, no, not at all. During the first 5 minutes U2 just sits there and they don’t say a thing and they think this is being cute. There was no insight from this band except for a little mention of Elvis but even that wasn’t interesting and just came off as way too random.

I did like the music and liked how it was filmed in black-and-white. I felt like I was there with the band in concert and a lot of the camera work is really extravagant of how they go from one member of the band to the other in such a fashion that isn’t rushed but used to have a total concert experience.

Consensus: This film is not a documentary as much as it is a film on U2’s concerts. It looks good and is rockin’ but doesn’t feature any insight from the band and completely forgetting the audience. Get the soundtrack not the movie.


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