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- Posted on Sep 20th 2009 6:00PM by Jonathan Dekel
White surprised Malloy during the post-film audience Q&A session by running onstage and grabbing the microphone out of the stunned director's hands.
Interrupting him mid-sentence, White announced, "I'm gonna let you finish, I'm gonna let you finish, but Orson Welles made one of the greatest films of all time!" before shrugging, handing the mic back and leaving the stage.
White -- a well-documented Orson Welles fanatic -- was clearly in a jovial mood thanks to the overwhelmingly positive response the audience gave '...Northern Lights.' Watching from his reserved seat on the balcony of the historic Elgin Theatre, and flanked by wife Karen Ellison and 'sister' Meg, White took in the first public screening of the documentary along with 1,500 lucky fans who yelled, cheered and laughed along to the duo's exploits during their 2007 cross-Canada tour.
Shot and directed by noted surf film and music video director Malloy, who also helmed the clip for the White Stripes' 'Icky Thump,' 'Under Great White Northern Lights' works as both a document of a personal tour -- the band played every province in Canada leading up to their tenth anniversary show in Nova Scotia, where White has ancient family roots -- and as the first intimate peek into the lives of one of the most mysterious bands in rock 'n' roll.
Brilliantly edited together for maximum emotional and visual punch, the film intersperses footage of the Stripes' incendiary live show with a revealing and personal interview with the band -- unsurprisingly Jack does most of the talking -- where they address their inception, the truth behind some of the myths, their dogmatic work esthetic and the media's perception of White as a control freak.
Where the film transcends earlier live documentaries, and justifies its place next to 'DIG!' and 'The Last Waltz' in the cannon of great music docs, is when the camera catches the duo off-guard, letting a sliver of humanity slip through the band's carefully crafted aesthetic.
The most notable moment takes place in film's final scene where, shortly after closing their tenth anniversary show -- at two and a half hours, the longest in White Stripes history -- the camera captures Meg and Jack alone at the piano. While Jack serenades Meg, she slowly and quietly starts to weep. Captured uncut and in black and white, Jack executes the song perfectly before embracing his soul sister. Credits roll.
Indeed, Orson Welles may well have made one of the greatest films of all time, but Malloy and the White Stripes still deserve all the accolades they get.