The first impressions of ‘Becoming Led Zeppelin’ are in

Becoming Led Zeppelin

Jimmy Page is currently in Venice to promote “Becoming Led Zeppelin,” the feature-length documentary film detailing the formation and early years of Led Zeppelin.

We’ve transcribed the full press conference Page held on September 4 here and collected reviews and other news about the film below.

The film, which had its world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival on September 3, has frustrated some critics, however, who complained that it’s too long and claimed people walked out of screenings.

The first clip to be released from the film includes seemingly upgraded footage of Led Zeppelin performing “Dazed And Confused” for Supershow on March 18, 1969 although the audio playing over it is of “Good Times, Bad Times” and the footage is interspersed with film clips of zeppelins.

Page held a press conference in Venice on September 4, telling journalists that he had turned down “pretty miserable” requests to make a documentary about the band in the past.

“Becoming Led Zeppelin” includes rare audio of John Bonham being interviewed by an Australian journalist that took one year to track down.

The film also features “never-before-seen footage of some of the band’s early US and British concerts,” according to an Associated Press report.

A sneak peak of the film has also been added to the line-up of the Telluride Film Festival, which is currently taking place in Colorado.

But early impressions of the film posted online have criticised it for being too long. LedZepNews previously reported that it has a runtime of 137 minutes.

Review round-up

“Full review coming shortly, but I clocked at least 50 people walking out of my (poorly air conditioned) screening of ‘Becoming Led Zeppelin’ last night,” wrote freelance film writer Marshall Shaffer on Twitter. “How I wish I had been able to join them.”

The Playlist: A ‘leaden, overlong doc solely for superfans.’

In his review for The Playlist, Shaffer says “‘Becoming Led Zeppelin’ simply devolves into a hoary mess that assumes viewers will be content to simply bask in a ceaseless parade of archival footage only briefly interjected by the band’s commentary,” he continues. “Every once in a while, they provide some fascinating making-of details explaining how they experimented with microphones and audio equipment to produce their distinctive sound.”

Variety: ‘Amazing footage and ’60s backstory, but too much catering to the band and not enough perspective’

Variety calls the film “a movie that any Zep fan will want to see” in its review. “But when you do, you may feel, as I did, that it’s full of extraordinary footage but that it’s a rather strange and, in the end, not fully satisfying film.”

MacMahon, the film’s director, “lets the performance clips run on, which is something I appreciated — though at one point we see a full-scale TV performance of ‘Communication Breakdown’ (which is searing), followed minutes later by a full-scale concert performance of ‘Communication Breakdown.'”

The Hollywood Reporter: ‘An overlong but essential, joyous portrait’

The Hollywood Reporter has published its review of the film, which again calls it too long. “Compared with clips of their first few filmed performances, footage shot from afar at outdoor concerts is of much lower quality, so MacMahon plays whole songs while mostly showing us moon landings, war protests, news headlines and the like.”

Another person who saw the documentary at the film festival called it “a sanitised ego trip down memory lane. Music is aces, obviously but this 137 minute doc on one of the greatest rock bands ever, is too long and far too indulgent in itself. Not gotta whole lotta love for this I’m afraid.”

“There was only about 1/2 of the audience left when the 137 minute long ‘Becoming Led Zeppelin’ finally drew curtains,” he added. “The band may not experience fatigue but your audience sure does.”

The Wrap: ‘Like the band, the movie is potent and excessive’

In The Wrap’s review of “Becoming Led Zeppelin,” the film is again criticised for being too long. “If you’re a diehard fan, you’ll probably glory in what the film delivers and wish there were more of it; if you’re not, you may find yourself power-chorded into submission sometime before the 2-hour and 17-minute running time comes to an end,” the author writes.

“Apart from a few full-length filmed performances, the filmmakers seem to be dealing with snippets, which they intersperse with news footage, stock shots of airplanes and city streets and other tricks to fill out the songs. It works for a while, but it also grows repetitive,” he continues.

IndieWire: ‘Bernard MacMahon’s by-the-numbers deep dive avoids any suggestion of controversy or scandal’

IndieWire has also published a review of the film, calling it a “by-the-numbers deep dive avoids any suggestion of controversy or scandal.”

“In the final minutes, it’s touching to see Page, Plant, and Jones smile as they listen to an old recording of Bonham saying what great blokes they are,” the review says.

Despite this criticism, all of the Venice screenings of the documentary are sold out, according to Variety international editor Manori Ravindran. “It’s by far one of the festival’s hottest tickets,” she wrote on Twitter.

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38 Comments on "The first impressions of ‘Becoming Led Zeppelin’ are in"

  1. “It’s too long!” said no Led Zeppelin fan ever….

  2. Must be the millenial crew who cant sit still for more than a few minutes or have no clue about zep.

  3. ” … a ceaseless parade of archival footage only briefly interjected by the band’s commentary”. Exactly what I’ve been waiting for! Can’t wait!

  4. Too long…never for a Zeppelin fan starved for any archival footage.

  5. This is what EVERY FAN OF THE LED has been waiting for. Since we know plant won’t go back and revisit what made him what he is, it truly sad. They played for 4 hours when I saw them at the Chicago Stadium in the mid 1970s.
    My first concert and still the best I’ve ever went to.

  6. Dear Moderator: You can tell I am new to posting – can I delete my full bloody name and just use initials? JTO – Thank you

  7. Oh poor me who will have to sit through 137 minutes of a film about the greatest rock band ever.

  8. the press never liked zeppelin and so again it goes 50 years on … lookin forward to seein it in san francisco and i will not be walkin out

  9. Fantastic band and film

  10. I say…its about damn time! Don’t like the critics saying it’s too long! When it comes to Zeppelin…it’s NEVER long enough!

  11. When you’re the best band that ever lived, you have to expect idiots claim it’s too long, reminds me of Amadeus “It’s too many notes!” line, bring it on!!!! But I’m still going to watch TSRTS over and over again!🤣

  12. As a fan from 1969 onward, I can understand why critics shun the overly sanitized version of the Zep story. But we can’t blame the band members. They want to die with dignity. Trouble is, the real story of the time of 69 to 71 was a drug fueled social uprising. And Zep was one of the best sound tracks. Like it or not, that’s the story beyond the hum-drum reality of musical history’s importance. Must have been rough on the members. Too rough to relive or ponder. Even on film.

  13. Led Zeppelin was is and will always be the greatest Rock band ever! For those that say it’s to long just don’t know what real Rock n Roll is!

  14. Rick J PETERSEN | 6th September 2021 at 3:49 am | Reply

    When can I buy the DVD/BLU-RAY?

  15. Rick J PETERSEN | 6th September 2021 at 3:49 am | Reply

    I want the video..

  16. To the critics: You can all go piss up a rope !

    Zeppelin fans: It’s 2 hrs and 17 mins long ?! That’s fantastic, but it not long enough !

    Movie screens and sound systems in theatres: Man, oh man, this Led Zeppelin band sounds and looks killer ! We’ve been under utilized till now !

  17. I’ll be the judge of whether or not it’s too long.

  18. Love to Led Zepplin, always!

  19. Your not a true fan if you walk out.Why would you watch it anyway, if your not a fan of the band.Us true fan will no doubt love the movie.

  20. When and where can I see or buy this. True Led Zepplin fan.

  21. To cram the muwic of possibly the greatest band of all time into an hour or so is to do their music a criminal injustice!! If you don’t like lengthy docus about any band, don’t watch it. Leave it to those who want to. And as for those who want the dirt, go watch motley crue. Whatever went on with Zep beh8nd closed doors whether real or rumour, can stay there. Anyone who loves the band knows all about it anyway, it’s hardly a catalogue of revelations!!

  22. It should be 4 hrs 34 minutes. To me it’s 2 hours 17 minutes too short.

  23. Guardare il film Becoming Led Zeppelin con Jimmy Page in sala non apprezzo mi è piaciuto molto il film ed è stata un’emozione spettacolare avere Jimmy Page lì a pochi decine di metri.
    Never Forget These precious Time❤❤❤

  24. The greatest blues/rock band ever. Haven’t seen the doc but I will,come bleed or blister. Once again thank you Mr. Page Mr. Plant Mr. Jones Mr. Bonham

  25. I mean really you have the original rock god singing,the best guitar picker playing,a bass/keyboard virtuoso,and Mr Bonham the best ever driver of a band. What could be better

  26. Led Zeppelin were, in my mind, without doubt the greatest rock band of the 20th Century, if only for eleven years of it. Four Englishmen, two from London and two from around the Black Country, on stage for three hours at a time, improvising every night. I was too young to see them in Sydney, 1972, and all of my friends, who were there, keep telling me how great it was. I can’t wait to see this documentary. The critics don’t get it. Zep fans are true fanatics.

  27. 137 min! Is too short for me… 🙂

  28. 1 hr 37 minutes for the band who received more request for a single concert (celebration day) in history is NOTHING!
    Unfortunately the mediocre critics from poor journalism that are able to incense other mediocre band doesn’t change the MITH!

  29. If it’s too long, you’re too young.

  30. Hey crítics: GET A REAL JOB!!!

  31. Jeez, my 1 regret in life will always be not seeing Zepellin live, from all the concerts that i have seen, they are just spectacular, no band comes close to them.

  32. Thank You…

  33. Hi, I’m a bit late to comment it, but in case somebody want to know a little bit more….
    I’m a Zepp head and being italian I went to the screening in Venice last september: well,
    the matter is not the length of the movie, but what they showcased in the doc. Nothing new has been showed unless you’re a total beginner.
    The intro, took a large part of the past of each memeber, not much dynamic, I might say. It’s just a good promotion of the band, that’s all.
    The only hit was Page himself introducing the movie and the greetings at the end.
    I’m not gonna watch it again nor buying any DVD .

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