White Stripes documentary sheds light on the band

By Christina Ranalli

“Under Great White Northern Lights”

Directed by: Emmett Malloy

Starring:… “Under Great White Northern Lights”

Directed by: Emmett Malloy

Starring: Jack White, Meg White

Three Foot Giant

B+

When hundreds of people gather to watch a band play a one-note show, its reputation must be extraordinary.

With these sorts of moments, “Under Great White Northern Lights,” the documentary of The White Stripes’ 2007 tour throughCanada, captures the flair, caliber and popularity of the unusual music duo.

The film follows the band as it travels and performs in every territory and province in Canada. From bowling alleys and boats to small concert halls, the experience is anything but typical. No matter how small the crowd or how well the audience knows the duo, The White Stripes bleed energy and dedication.

The tour culminates in one final performance for the band’s 10-year anniversary: the longest show the band ever played.

Of course, this is more than just a concert film — to fully capture the essence of the band, director Emmett Malloy merges clips of live performances with interviews with the band members, Jack and Meg White.

Meg’s awkward and mysterious shyness, for instance, comes on particularly strong in scenes where people are conversing, during which Meg stares off into space and gives infrequent, quiet responses. Jack, on the other hand, tries to tackle the challenges of success, which have been building since the band’s inception.

The film also showcases the band’s personality through creative cinematography. During an interview, Jack remarks that the band revolves around “storytelling, melody and rhythm.” Malloy realizes this and uses a mixture of black-and-white footage, grainy shots, red static transitions and raw, candid pictures to echo The Stripes’ image and music.

It’s rare to find a rock ’n’ roll documentary that’s both modest and ambitious, but “Under Great White Northern Lights” proves that filmmakers still produce them.

Jack and Meg White’s unique sound resonates through clips of their electrifying performances, making the movie a foot-tapping, head-nodding romp.

Perhaps more importantly, the small, intimate interactions between the two members ensure that the film is worth your time.

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