Oh, Rattle and Hum, how do I love thee? Seeing the movie in the theater when it was released was one of those seminal moments of my life. It was truly the first time I had seen the band live in concert, if you can call it that. I remember seeing it in the theater and being enthralled, being stunned by the sound and the vision. I saw the movie eight times in the theater, and countless times since, if I said I’ve seen it a hundred times I don’t think I would be exaggerating. I love this movie.
It is the opening song that I think is possibly the worst song in the whole movie, partly because it’s not a U2 song, partly because of the controversy around it, people complaining they were comparing themselves to the Beatles. Now honestly I think they’ve passed the Beatles these days, although I’m a little biased, but back at the time the Beatles were definitely bigger.
We then switch into Van Diemen’s Land, which is a beautiful song and introduces us to the second main theme of the movie. The first being the live stuff, the second being behind the scenes and out of the public eye stuff. I keep mentioning this but that’s what often really interests me, seeing the lives beyond the stage, whether it’s recording in a studio, or just hanging out somewhere. The books I’ve liked the most this year have been the ones that show that stuff. The movie shows it in spades, with everything from little excerpts like Adam sitting in a bar talking about mixing music and politics, or the band touring Graceland and seeing Larry’s infatuation with both Elvis and Harley.
The movie has the dichotomy between the color and black and white sequences, and to this day I don’t really understand why the director chose to do that. I think I read about it sometime but I don’t remember what it was. But it was an artistic choice so I’ll respect that. The first half of the movie is in black and white, and when it turns to color at the beginning of Streets it really brings in a wow factor. I think that moment is perhaps my all-time favorite U2 moment, with the lead-in to my all-time favorite U2 song, the explosion of color and sound is just wonderful. I don’t remember a moment that could beat that, but if I mentioned one already this year then it would have to be good.
Artistically I can see hoe some people didn’t necessarily like the movie, the band - Bono especially - do come off looking a little pretentious. You’ve got to remember though that they are singers, not public speakers who are going to do everything right. They are being natural, in other words. Anyway, for the U2 fan, it doesn’t really matter, does it? What other people think of them shouldn’t matter to me if I like them, it doesn’t diminish from my like in any way.
The movie has that other most powerful moment in Sunday Bloody Sunday, with the absolute raw emotion in the song coming through in a great way. I think - correct me if I’m wrong - this has to be the definitive version of Sunday.
Great songs, great movie, and it finishes with All I Want Is You running over the end credits, the long version with all the violins and stuff, yet another of my favorite songs. This whole movie really is a depiction of the band at their height, at least that early height, where most everything is going for them. A must see for the dedicated U2 fan, and probably even for the casually interested fan.
My rating for Rattle and Hum (movie): 10 / 10