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The Rolling Stones, the rock ‘n’ roll icons who have defined creativity, daring and durability, are chronicled in a kaleidoscopic new film that will debut Thursday, Novembr 15 (9:00-10:45 p.m. ET/PT) on HBO. The film documents the key periods in their career and their incredible adventures.
‘Crossfire Hurricane’, directed by Academy Award nominee Brett Morgen (HBO’s ‘The Kid Stays in the Picture’), provides a remarkable new perspective on the Stones’ unparalleled journey from blues-obsessed teenagers in the early ‘60s to rock royalty. It’s all here in panoramic candor, from the Marquee Club to Hyde Park, from Altamont to “Exile,” from club gigs to stadium extravaganzas.
For ‘Crossfire Hurricane’, the filmmakers amassed a library of more than 1000 hours of film and 500 hours of audio by gaining access to outtakes from nearly all of the Stones documentary films. With never-before-seen footage, most notably from “Gimme Shelter” and “Cocksucker Blues,” and fresh insights from the band members themselves, the film will delight, shock andamaze longtime devotees, as well as more recent fans, with its uniquely immersive style and tone. Drawing on more than 80 hours of new interviews with the band, the film marks the most extensive participation by the Stones in a documentary ever.
‘Crossfire Hurricane’ features previously unheard versions of such Stones classics as “Tumbling Dice,” “No Expectations,” “She’s a Rainbow,” “Prodigal Son” and many more. Rare live performances of “Satisfaction,” “I Just Want to Make Love to You” and “It’s Allright” fill out the soundtrack.
‘Crossfire Hurricane’ places the viewer right on the front line of the band’s most legendary escapades. Taking its title from a lyric in “Jumping Jack Flash,” ‘Crossfire Hurricane’ gives the audience an intimate insight, for the first time, into exactly what it was like to be part of the Rolling Stones as they overcame denunciation, drugs, dissension and death to become the definitive survivors. It’s the backstage pass to outdo them all.
The film illustrates the Stones’ evolution from being, as Mick Jagger vividly describes it, “the band everybody hated to the band everybody loves,” through the hedonistic 1970s and Keith Richards’ turning-point bust in Canada, to the spectacular touring phenomenon of today. Richards also reveals the song that he believes defines the “essence” of his writing relationship with Jagger more than any other.
Asked in a formative interview in the film what it is that sets them apart from other groups, Jagger says with quiet understatement, “A chemical reaction seems to have happened.” Richards adds, “You can’t really stop the Rolling Stones, you know when that sort of avalanche is facing you, you just get out of the way.” It’s been happening ever since, and the life and times of the Rolling Stones have never been as electrifyingly portrayed as they are in ‘Crossfire Hurricane’.
The odyssey includes film from the Stones’ initial road trips and first controversies as they became the anti-Beatles, the group despised by authority because they connected and communicated with their own generation as no oneelse ever had. “When we got together,” says Bill Wyman, “something magical happened, and no one could ever copy that.”
Director Brett Morgen adds, “‘Crossfire Hurricane’ invites the audience to experience firsthand the Stones’ nearly mythical journey from outsiders to rock and roll royalty. This is not an academic history lesson. ‘Crossfire Hurricane’ allows the viewer to experience the Stones’ journey from a unique vantage point. It’s an aural and visual roller coaster ride.”
From the outset of the film, viewers know they’re in for a white-knuckle ride. No sooner had the early Stones lineup first played live under that name in thesummer of 1962 than they were bigger than the venues that tried to hold them. Wyman remembers how the crowds were soon inspiring manic behaviour, especially among screaming girls, whose uncontrollable excitement was obvious as stardom beckoned for the band already earmarked as the bad guys with press headlines like “Would you let your daughter marry a Rolling Stone?”
Riots and the chaos of early tours are graphically depicted, as is the birth of the Mick Jagger-Keith Richards songwriting partnership. The many dramas they encountered are also fully addressed, including the Redlands drug bust, thedescent of Brian Jones into what Richards calls “bye-bye land,” and the terror and disillusionment of 1969’s Altamont Festival.
The band’s rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle is also discussed with extraordinary forthrightness, including the time of their seminal 1972 album ‘Exile on Main St.’, which topped the British charts both then and 38 years later in its deluxe reissue. Their very survival repeatedly under threat, the Stones survived with a backs-to-the-wall spirit. “We may be going down,” says Keith, “but we’re not going down your way.”
As befits the first rock band to reach the 50-year milestone with their globalstature now greater than ever, the film combines extensive historical footage, much of it widely unseen, with contemporary commentaries by Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Ronnie Wood and former Stones Bill Wyman and Mick Taylor. Period interviews, extensive live performance material and news archive give the production a truly kinetic aura and no-holds-barred approach. ‘Crossfire Hurricane’ has taken over a year to make and produce with the fullcooperation of the Rolling Stones.