Friday, November 11, 2011

From The Sky Down

This documentary film is about the making of Achtung Baby, or rather about U2 reflecting on that tumultuous period. It's roughly 75mins long, and I don't mind if it's short, but I think the film is rather incomplete. It's like director, Davis Guggenheim, rushed to put it together to make the deadline for the Achtung Baby boxset release, or the Toronto International Film Festival back in September, where it premiered. A lengthy amount of time is spent talking about the band during the '80s, especially on the Joshua Tree period, and while it is kinda necessary to put things into perspective leading up to the early '90s, it just drags the film down too much. Early in the film the band rehearses for Glastonbury in a Winnipeg theatre, and we see them trying out The Fly. And we see the band talking and trying to figure out live arrangements and stuff. There should be more of that footage; I probably would've enjoyed the film more.

Also the band revisiting Hansa Studios in Berlin. Again I've would've liked to see more jamming of the Achtung songs in there. The director did capture them doing a bit of So Cruel and Wild Horses, which was excellent. I also liked how he incorporated humorous unique animation into the band members' soundbites, similar to what he did in that guitar docu, It Might Get Loud. There's this interesting scene where we hear a sessions tape of an early version of Mysterious Ways, in which its chord progression became One. For me the best part of the film comes at the last five minutes, where the band prepares to take the Glastonbury stage, and then launches into a new rendition of Even Better Than The Real Thing. From The Sky Down could've been a documentary that really reveals the greatness of Achtung Baby, especially to the more casual fan, but it falls short. For a better scoop about the making of the album, check out the book, U2 By U2. The film is currently only available on the Uber and Super Deluxe boxsets -- smart money-making ploy.

I'm not going into detail for the other audio-visual contents, cause there's nothing new to cover: The second DVD consists of all the Achtung (and Zooropa) singles' music videos, their alternate versions and several live videos. The third disc contains a one-hour documentary-cum-concert film of the Zoo TV tour filmed at Yankees Stadium, and some other smaller TV specials and Achtung multimedia content. The last disc is the complete Zoo TV show from Sydney, which as you know, has been released before. More to come on the other audio contents...