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Last Updated: Friday, 8 February 2008, 18:28 GMT
Stones shine at Berlin Festival
By Emma Jones
Entertainment reporter, BBC News, Berlin

Shine a Light, Martin Scorsese's documentary about the Rolling Stones, has opened the Berlin Film Festival.

The headline-grabbing occasion when the Rolling Stones stood on the red carpet was a true flashbulb moment.

The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones brought Berlin to a standstill
It marked the first time a major film festival has dared to open with a non-fiction movie.

But does the combination of Scorsese and the Stones raise it above the average rockumentary?

Even with Scorsese's name attached, is still a two-hour performance given by the Rolling Stones at the Beacon Theater in New York in 2006.

The start is spiced up by behind-the-scenes footage of the director tearing his hair out over not being handed a set list with an hour to go.

Amusing footage

"I have to know if they start with a guitar riff, the camera needs to be on Keith," Scorsese frets.

"If they start with Mick and the keyboards, the camera needs to be there."

No-one dares point out that with 17 cameras installed in the venue, the chances of missing the opening bars are slim.

Once underway, the tardy set list is broken up by amusing archive footage of the Stones in various interviews of the past, sometimes in a near catatonic state.

"What is the most frequent question you're asked?" asks a reporter of an unlined Mick Jagger.

"How long I'll be singing with the band for," he replies, without irony.

It is their momentum, not the direction, that carries the film
There are laugh out loud moments provided by Keith Richards, especially when he's asked what he does before going on stage.

"I wake up," he replies sincerely.

But it was the present day footage of the Stones that had critics gripped.

Scorsese's grainy close-ups and fluid camera angles capture the sheer raw energy of this band, more than 40 years after they started.

It is their momentum, not the direction, that carries the film.

Youngsters like Christina Aguilera and Jack White, present for couple of numbers, work hard to keep up.

Variety Magazine said Shine A Light was "a gas, gas, gas", while the Hollywood Reporter praised it for "capturing the very essence of the Stones in performance".

"I didn't even like the Stones," said a German critic sitting next to me. "But I wanted to stay to the very end. It was fantastic."

However, leaving the cinema feeling you've just been to a Stones gig really isn't the thing for a film festival.

Mick Jagger
Singer Mick Jagger was in typically flamboyant mood
"Shine a Light is simply another in a long line of Rolling Stones concert films," continued the Hollywood Reporter's critic.

"The film does not stand up to the current crop of music concert films like U2 3D."

Still, you can't fault the honest enjoyment on the faces of the four band members as they perform.

As Keith Richards croons over his guitar and Mick Jagger leaps in the air like a 25-year-old, even the sternest critic would agree it's an exhilarating watch.

Besides, the Rolling Stones' appearance has brought some much-needed rock 'n' roll attitude to this normally serious event.

Fans queued in the biting cold all day for a chance to see them, and their arrival brought the centre of Berlin to a standstill.

The group - with a combined age of more than 200 - had freshness to spare.

In Berlin in February, that's exactly the kind of performance that is needed.

Berlin premiere for Stones movie
08 Feb 08 |  Entertainment
Stones film opens Berlin festival
16 Jan 08 |  Entertainment
Scorsese 'to make Harrison film'
27 Sep 07 |  Entertainment

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