Shine a Light (2 stars)

Shine a Light

(12A) 122min


It was customary in early Greek and Roman books to have the portrait of the author on the opening page. Martin Scorsese brings this tradition to his Rolling Stones concert movie. The opening exchanges depict the director desperately trying to get Mick Jagger to reveal what songs they’re going to play at a concert being hosted by Bill Clinton in New York City. Mick Jagger is having none of it and it’s mildly amusing to watch him blank Scorsese.

In making his opening sequence about the process of filmmaking Scorsese harks back to the intriguing 1968 Jean-Luc Godard documentary One Plus One, in which the director interspersed images of the band recording their tune ‘Sympathy For the Devil’ with footage of political activists of the time, most memorably the Black Panthers. Once the Stones begin to play in Shine a Light, Scorsese disappears from the picture until the final scene, which is a shame as his intervention is the only out-of-the-ordinary aspect in this otherwise reverential documentary.

The Stones have been the subject of some great documentaries – check out the Mayles Brothers’ unforgettable 1970s Gimme Shelter – but Scorsese makes no new discoveries here. The best homage Scorsese has paid to the Stones remains the numerous occasions he has used their songs as a soundtrack to memorable scenes in his features.

General release from Fri 11 Apr.

Shine A Light

  • 2 stars
  • 2008
  • US
  • 2h 2min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Martin Scorsese

Overly reverential documentary filmed at a Rolling Stones concert hosted by Bill Clinton in New York City, which shows the songs in full, interspersed with archive interviews and footage of the band. Despite the interesting inclusion of Scorcese in the opening and final scenes, no new discoveries are made here.

The Rolling Stones

The veteran band, featuring original members singer Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards, celebrates 50 years since its formation in London by playing its hits including Jumpin' Jack Flash and Brown Sugar.

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