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Interview


Martin Scorsese and Rolling Stones on the making of Shine a Light

From The Times
March 22, 2008

As Scorsese fulfils his ambition to make a Stones film, the team explain how they worked together

Martin Scorsese appears only fleetingly in his most recent rock-documentary, Shine a Light, but for the 65-year-old New Yorker, the film must feel in some way autobiographical. Tracks by the Rolling Stones have rolled through his films, their raucous tone and exuberant energy rattling through Mean Streets, Raging Bull, Goodfellas and Casino. The great director cites the band as a formative influence - “Ive been filming the Stones for 40 years,” he says - and the culmination of that experience has now been rendered as a two-hour document - Shine a Light.
The latest entry in Scorseses burgeoning rack of rock documentaries - he worked as an editor on Woodstock before directing The Last Waltz (on the Band) and No Way Home (on Bob Dylan) and producing the PBS series The Blues - Shine a Light is a simple concert film. Incorporating almost a full live set, recorded in the autumn of 2006, it is inter-cut with snippets of archive footage. The film had its premiere at the Berlin Film Festival to almost universal acclaim.
As Scorsese and his glittering cast sit down to discuss the movie, they present an unlikely troupe. When they talk, they banter back and forth, Scorseses rat-a-tat delivery spilling words in torrents. On one side sit Keith Richards and Charlie Watts, the former spitting pithy one-liners, the latter offering quiet, measured replies. On the other side sit Mick Jagger and Ronnie Wood, both of whom fidget incessantly and argue like restless schoolboys.
Scorsese and Watts are dressed in expensive suits; Richards and Wood, on the other hand, are wrapped in full rocknroll attire. Richardss hair, streaked with blue, hangs festooned with feathers and bits of metal, like a miniature art installation. Jagger, clad in a white shirt and tight black trousers, is something of a middleman, sartorially, and, perhaps, professionally. For Shine a Light owes as much to Jaggers vision as to Scorseses, the two men discussing various projects before electing to shoot a performance film. The result is a beautifully forged document. It is Scorseses tribute to the music that has shaped his movies. As a consequence, we see the Stones for what they are to him - immediate, defiant, exotic and, above all, extraordinary.
Scorsese: The Stones music has inspired me greatly and became a basis for most of the work Ive done in my movies, going from Mean Streets right the way up to Raging Bull, Goodfellas and Casino. Their music for me is timeless; it helped me form scenes, the energy and the atmosphere of the music, it created images in my mind.
Jagger: Actually, I think Shine a Light is the only Martin Scorsese film that doesnt have Gimme Shelter in it! Seriously, though, Marty and I had been discussing various film ideas and one of the beginnings of this project was us doing a show in Rio de Janeiro, on the beach. I thought it would be wonderful if we could be filmed and I asked Martin if he would come down and shoot it in Imax, of course, 3-D as well. But he said that hed like to film something more intimate. Thats how we got to the Beacon Theatre in New York. Scorsese: We tried to get the film as close as possible to the energy of a live concert. For me the Stones are all about energy, thats why they are still so relevant today.
Initially, we did think about a narrative structure for the film. We talked about doing something with the Stones and New York City - we could have had many different scenarios - but quite honestly, after 40-45 years, so many great filmmakers have worked with the Stones, what could I possibly add? “The Rolling Stones in New York”, some clever interstitial moments?
Watts: What I like about the film is that, simply put, its not boring, which often those things are. Its all in the edits and the cuts. Thats a moviemaker rather than a guy just shooting a band on stage. So it is a movie. And I thought Mick was the real star. Ive never seen him live, obviously. Ive seen him do things with bands, but apart from in videos and things Ive never really seen him do us.
And he was on fire. You can tell in the third song when Lisa Fisher, the singer, does a shimmy with him and the look on her face. He dances like Fred Astaire, gliding backwards across the stage.
Richards: Charlie, Ronnie and I, all we do is go around being a safety net for Mick, really. Sometimes hes way out on the edge of a stage and hes got the beat totally wrong, hes singing like some Chinese scale and then theres Charlie and me looking at each other. ‘Oh, lets pick it up and switch the beat and then Micks in. Mick can screw up any f***ing song (laughs). Seriously, though, after this many years I wonder what Id do without him! Anyway, we all played great on Shine a Light.
Jagger: Making a concert movie is really no different from making an art movie. Youve got these teams of people, youve got a massive amount of committees ... And we were well prepared for a film because Keith sat us all down before we went on stage and told us how to act, now hes a Pirates of the Caribbean star! (laughs)
Richards: Yeah, now Im always waiting for a good part to come up (laughs). See if Johnny Depps got a bit part for me in the next one or whatever. No, seriously, I dont pursue these things.
Watts: And when you work with Marty you dont need acting lessons.
Wood: Thats true. Hes a marvel, Marty. I learnt a lot, seeing through Martys eyes.
Jagger: What exactly did you learn? Wood: I learnt that its not just the concert footage; its seeing through the eyes of all these cinematographers under the direction of Marty and how they put it all together.
Scorsese: The editing is fantastic. With our editor, David Tedeschi, the show feels more like choreography, dance, a sculpture that moves, a kinetic sculpture. Although what I love most about the medium of documentary is the timing. Its priceless. I love the moment when we see the producer explaining to Charlie that hes going to have another “meet and greet” with about 30 people.
Charlie says, “I just did” and the producer goes, “No. You just met the President. You are now going to meet some other people.” Its hilarious.
Watts: I dont know why the Clinton bits in the movie. That was a bit dull for me, because they werent really rocknroll people.
Jagger: Well Clintons a rocknroll sax player (laughs). All these politicians play something. That Huckabee guy, the [former] governor of Arizona, is a guitar player. He doesnt believe in evolution but he plays the guitar! He always makes this big thing of how he pardoned Keith for a driving offence in Arkansas.
Wood: It must have been when we drove from Memphis to Dallas and were arrested for loitering. Keith was driving far too slow. He was stoned. And we got locked up for a day!
Jagger: Its funny looking back at that old footage, like when you see me being asked whether we could carry on touring and playing when were in our sixties, and youd expect me to have said the opposite, being so young. But the reality is I immediately say “Yes”!
Watts: Its funny though, after all this time, theres never really any friction in the band. Although, actually, you never want to get in the middle of Mick and Keith! Theyre like brothers, so they get seriously stroppy with each other! But they will turn around and be in love again. Ronnie always puts his foot in it, and gets his head chopped off, but thats Ronnie! The secret of staying together is keeping out of each others way most of the time. Even when I was a young idiot, really, Ive always seen my own life as separate from the Stones.
Wood: Yeah, we definitely try to stay away from each other when were not on stage (laughs).
Jagger: Yes. Its the best way, isnt it? Although Ronnies got a new swimming pool, so Im going there more often as I dont have such a thing.
Richards: We did almost split up, of course. But then Mick got wise and did as he was told (laughs)!
Scorsese: Its great that the Stones are still together and still touring. For Shine a Light, we shot two concerts, over two nights, and all the concert footage was taken from the second night. Its pretty much in real time between songs, particularly after Buddy Guy finishes and they suddenly go in to Tumbling Dice. Buddy Guy was sensational, as were all the guest stars that night.
Richards: Buddy was amazing. I gave him my guitar at the end and that was no set-up. He was so good that after hed finished I just went, “This ones yours, pal.” And I very rarely give anything away (laughs).
Jagger: We thought Buddy Guy was a great person to have. Wed played with him before. With the other guests, Jack White had already opened the show for us on many occasions so we knew him. Its best to have people you know so only Christina Aguilera may have been a gamble, but shes got a fantastic voice.
Watts: I thought Christina Aguilera was amazing, because often those girls freeze when they dance with Mick. Weve had some great people - including our dear Amy Winehouse, although I dont think she was quite well - who were never as good as Christina.
Richards: Im glad Amy seems to have sorted herself out a bit recently.
Wood: I think with people like Amy and Britney, you just have to keep your fingers crossed for them and hope they get through it.
Jagger: That doesnt sound very hands on, does it, Ronnie? (laughs) People go through all this stuff but now, compared to when we were going through all our similar sorts of times, people didnt really know so much about drugs or they didnt have rehab centres. Well, they did but Id never heard of one.
Wood: You were considered mad if you went to one.
Jagger: There werent the sort of support systems that people can have now, so you had to be your own support system.
Wood: Its funny. I was talking to Neil Young about how Id survived it all, last night. Why are we still here? Its great!
Jagger: But then most people do survive. Its how you come out at the other side and what shape youre in.
Wood: I dont know how were going to help Britney, though, poor cow!
Jagger: She is really nice. I remembered seeing her all over the place when we were doing promotion. Im really surprised. But I wouldnt be worried about letting my kids listen to Amy Winehouse or Pete Doherty. Although, actually, if they were listening to Pete Doherty I would!
Richards: I cant say I listen to that many newer performers. I dont like digital much. I dont like the sound. Im very happy that there are plenty of bands around, guys playing together. There are so many now. It was easier when it was just the Beatles and us! But I think we might make another album. Once we get over doing promotion on this film.
Watts: I think we should carry on. It seems that whenever we stop I get ill. The last time we had a break I got throat cancer. I do all my exercises, I dont smoke, and I dont drink, yet Im the one in the band that got it. I was lying there thinking, “This is it.” I went into hospital and eight months later Mick said, “Were going to do a record. But well only start when you are ready.” They were buggering about, writing songs, and when I was ready I went down and that was it, we made A Bigger Bang. Then we did a two-year tour.
Richards: We love what we do, simple as that. We were the whipping hounds, you know, but thats calmed down. Now were the wrinkled rockers, right? But I still have the energy. I put that down to not eating a lot. And drinking a lot. Not eating a lot, and good weed. Honestly Id do this job even if I were in a wheelchair.
Shine a Light is released on April 11


Дата публикации: 11/07/2008
Прочитано: 5396 раз
Дополнительно на данную тему:
Martin Scorsese: "The Stones Freed My Mind"
Mick Jagger
Blues Brothers


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