Review: ‘Shine a Light’

After starting up the Berlin Film Festival and then moving to IMAX, Martin Scorsese’s rock doc on the Rolling Stones comes full circle, arriving on DVD with glaring omissions.

Filmed across two nights at Gotham’s historic Beacon Theatre as part of a celebration for Bill Clinton’s 60th birthday, “Shine a Light” is a beautifully lensed tribute to the survival of an iconic R&B band as they plow through decades of hits.

However, the extras package is lacking in the sort of insight one would expect from such prolific artists as Scorsese and the Stones.

Sparse special features essentially amounts to a 15-minute extension of the main event, mixed with behind-the-scenes and archival footage. There are some revealing moments, such as a decades-old interview with drummer Charlie Watts as he explains how his staid home life sets him apart from his notorious bandmates, or Buddy Guy humorously recounting how he received his profane middle name. Some poignant shots of the band warming up are captured, including Mick Jagger playing harmonica to “Wild Horses” and Keith Richards wistfully strumming his guitar.

Four bonus performance numbers are “Undercover of the Night,” “Paint It Black,” “Little T&A” and “I’m Free.” These songs appear to be just as worthy of inclusion as the ones that made the pic’s final set list, meaning it must have been difficult for both the director and band to choose which songs should stay or go. Cumulative running time for the four extra tunes is just under 17 minutes.

Package offers no interviews or commentary. Omission is inexcusable when dealing with such treasured artists as Jagger and the Stones. Even if their contributions were only in short snippets, it would have significantly enhanced the disc package. Special guest musician Jack White, cinematographer Robert Richardson, editor David Tedeschi and others involved could’ve also added their expertise to the project.

Shine a Light

Release date: July 29, 2008; DVD, $19.99; Blu-Ray, $39.99


Paramount Home Entertainment


Dolby, widescreen. Running time: 121 mins.


Cast: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ron Wood, Charlie Watts
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