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.
“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.