Visionary Irish rock band U2 has not sold itself short with U2 Rattle and Hum, a deeply felt cinematic treatment of band’s music and concern infused with striking visual style and electric momentum.
Film follows the band throughout the landscape of American-roots music, encountering street musicians in Harlem, collaborating with a gospel choir, performing with bluesmaster B. B. King and recording ‘Angel of Harlem’, a poignant remembrance of Billie Holiday at Sun Studios in Memphis.
There also is plenty of homage paid to the 1960s, with covers of Bob Dylan, the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix. None of it takes away from the riveting performances of U2’s own music, captured mostly at concert venues in Denver, Fort Worth and Arizona.
Director Phil Joanou films mostly in black & white save one color concert sequence, using grainy blowups of 16mm footage to create a gritty texture for the ‘street’ segs and a startling mixture of silhouette and shadow for the concert footage.