Davis Guggenheim’s 90 minute documentary takes an intriguing look at the band U2 from the inside out, literally, as both analysis and observation of the superstar group during their preparation for the 2011 Glastonbury Festival 20th Anniversary performance of their album ACHTUNG BABY.

During the six months of production Guggenheim was not only allowed to interview and film,but was given unprecedented access to classic and rare archives.  The group talks candidly about their internal dialogues as individual musicians and as a group during a period on their career, where after having achieved huge popular success with THE JOSHUA TREE and RATTLE AND HUM, the raw and harsh critical reception by the press of the latter put the group not only at odds with each other but colored their view of the world.  RATTLE AND HUM’s sincere approach to American blues and roots music was seemingly at odds or out of character, according to some major press outlets, making them doubt the strength of their compositions and artistic direction.

The resulting choice of Berlin as the location for recording ACHTUNG BABY, and all that city brings, changed the look and sound of the band, reuniting  them at a time of internal struggle.  The resulting freedom from the constraints of their usual working methodology brought in new influences, new experiences, and opened up the creative process to new inspiration.  It is said the musician is often just the conduit.  The music itself is channeled from a divine, unlimited source, as if “from the sky down”, and only those uniquely in tune with the invisible frequencies of Tue source can interpret, refine, and give it voice.  Berlin seems to have been the time and place for this.change in U2’s artistic perception and vision and the group in its maturity gives an honest interpretation of who and what they were at that time in their career.

Using still images from many of the industry’s greatest photographers, unused footage from Phil Janou’s RATTLE AND HUM documentary, animation from AWESOME + modest, and new footage from Hansa studios on Berlin (the original recording location), Guggenheim takes the viewer behind the scenes to wee the way a band really works to bring to fruition the songs that make memories for some and become background noise on the radio for others.  He elevates both the musician and creative process from disposable hero to cultural visionary and teacher.

Featured interviews include:  Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen, Jr., Daniel Lanois, Brian Eno, Anton Corbijn, and Paul MacGuinness.  The disc includes tue bonus tracks: “So Cruel”, “Love Is Blindness”, and “The Fly” as well as a Question &Answer session with director Davis Guggenheim and the band.

The documentary is currently available on BluRay and DVD.

AuthorJordan Mohler