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The White Stripes: Under Great White Northern Lights (tbc)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner10/03/2010

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 90 mins

Entertaining documentary that's part concert movie, part rock-doc and part Canadian local history. White Stripes fans can probably go ahead and add another star.

What's it all about?
Directed by Emmett Malloy (a director of previous White Stripes videos), The White Stripes: Under Great White Northern Lights follows Detroit rock duo The White Stripes (Jack and Meg White) as they embark on an ambitious tour where the plan is to play a show in every province and territory in Canada. Aside from their official pre-arranged venues, Jack and Meg also put on a series of secret “side shows” in each town, so they end up playing at a variety of different venues, including bowling alleys, flour mills, pool halls, recreation centres, children's schools, buses and even a boat in the harbour.

The Good
The concert footage is interspersed with a series of to-camera interviews with Jack and Meg, as well as behind-the-scenes tour footage, in which they meet local dignitaries (the Mayor of Yellowknife drives them around himself and gives them a guided tour) and interact with various Canadians. A particular highlight occurs when they meet the Inuit elders of Iqaluit and are introduced to the joys of eating raw caribou.

The film functions perfectly well as a straight up concert movie, since the songs are played mostly in full and the majority of their hits are included. However, the real strength of the film lies in the rather touching simplicity of idea for the tour itself – it's impossible to imagine any other contemporary rock band embarking on a tour like this and yet the sheer pleasure it brings both the Whites and their audiences (many of whom, it's clear, have never heard of the White Stripes, but have never had a famous rock band in their town before either) is visible for all to see.

The Bad
The only real problem with the film is that you don't learn all that much about Jack and Meg from their to-camera interviews – indeed, Meg barely speaks, except to confirm that she's naturally quiet (ironic, considering the noise the band makes on stage) and that the reason she's quiet doesn't have anything to do with Jack.

Worth seeing?
The White Stripes: Under Great White Northern Lights is a well made, entertaining documentary that's something of a must-see for White Stripes fans but probably won't make too many new converts. Also, it's out on DVD on Monday.

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Content updated: 11/12/2017 05:52

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