American films

Film review: Gimme Danger – Iggy and the Stooges remembered in Jim Jarmusch’s affectionate documentary

Jarmusch’s film explores how the legendary group shook rock’n’roll’s foundations in the late 1960s and 1970s, but it does shy away from issues like the band’s drug use and Iggy’s self-abuse

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 October, 2017, 7:03am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 November, 2017, 3:01pm

3.5/5 stars

Revered Detroit rock band Iggy and the Stooges, known as the godfathers of punk, have been immortalised in a new documentary directed by Jim Jarmusch. The film explores the story behind the band, from their formation in the 1960s until the present day.

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Consisting mainly of interviews with the band’s charismatic singer Iggy Pop (née James Osterberg), Gimme Danger is an upbeat affair which benefits from some stylistic touches from Jarmusch. Pop – now 70 and still rocking – is all charm, meaning interested parties unfamiliar with their music will still find plenty to enjoy in the documentary.

Gimme Danger – named after a track on the Stooges’ Raw Power album and representative of the band’s hard-living ethos – delves deep into the history of the band. Early days focus on their foundation in Detroit and their relationship with fellow experimental noise rockers, the equally legendary MC5.

How Jim Jarmusch and Iggy Pop teamed up for The Stooges documentary Gimme Danger

Run-ins with record companies, who were worried their wild living would be bad for business, their relationship with David Bowie – who produced Raw Power – and their second round of success as a touring band in the 2000s are all covered. Everything’s there, although the band’s copious drug use and Pop’s very public self-abuse are played down.

The archive performance footage is great, although there’s not much fans wouldn’t have already seen. To illustrate the visual gaps, Jarmusch uses animation and clips from kitschy old films, a technique which keeps the film lively. The affable narrative – that’s clearly a labour of love for Jarmusch, who’s a friend of Pop – has the same intimate ‘chatting’ quality as Jarmusch’s 2003 anthology Coffee and Cigarettes.

Still, viewers may be shocked to discover just how dangerous and politically subversive rock music was back in its celebrated golden age.

Gimme Danger opens on October 26

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