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Led Zeppelin - The Song Remains The Same (Film) CD (album) cover


Led Zeppelin


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3.96 | 134 ratings

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4 stars The audio visual equivilant of lying in a bath of warm beer while a mutant hippy repeatedly slaps you round the face with cannabis leaves.

This film is very much a psychedelic experiment; assembled from concert footage (both on-stage and off) and irrelevant but enjoyable location scenes. It's a music and image extravaganza. The trouble is, it's particularly non-linear (confusing), avant-garde (cringeworthy), and has aged poorly. It can only be considered a movie masterpiece if one of two things applies to you:

1) You are stoned.

2) You are in 1973.

One of those things is now impossible, the other illegal. So looking from a 21st century sober man's perspective, it's difficult to "feel" this musical experience in the way Led Zeppelin intended. That's not to say it's bad, I love watching the film, but it's simply less effective on a small screen some 37 years after its release.

The songs themeselves are fantastic. They perfectly capture the world's biggest rock band at their performance peak, playing a delightful setlist with plenty of blues, riff-rock, and free-for-all improvisation. The audience in attendance was huge, and their response says a lot about the power and influence of this cosmic band. Visually, the stage sections are also great; displaying the interesting interplay between band members, and enabling us to view Page spank his guitar from the best angle possible at any given time. It's the location shooting that seems a little out-of-place. Often tacky, these random [drug-induced] solo spots spoil the flow of the show somewhat. I can understand their inclusion from the band's point of view, and I can see where they were trying to go with each one, it just isn't executed particularly well. There is little cohesive narrative to the four mini-films (except Bonham's, which is simply a collage of rich drummer life- farms, pubs and fast cars) and they don't really link that well to the songs which they are found within (other than that the person who features most prominantly in each song is the one in the clip). It sort of works, but doesn't work. What fits in more naturally, are the backstage clips that show the rock'n'roll industry from a more "business" point of view. These moments include the infamous loss of a stash of Zeppelin cash, footage of the band entering their 'Starship' plane, and Peter Grant calling a promoter a cunt.

...which is exactly what such an tour's daily routine would involve. Forget fantasy storyboards, the documentary- esque footage is what really provides an interesting insight to such a phenomenal band. So I do recommend this film, but I think it's messy in places. But at least it captures a very significant moment in music history.

thehallway | 4/5 |


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