USA – 2010 – 93 MIN – COLOUR - FEATURE - IN ENGLISH
A FILM BY EMMETT MALLOY
In the summer of 2007, shortly after the release of their 6th album Icky Thump, The White Stripes headed north of their hometown of Detroit to embark on an ambitious journey across Canada. The plan was to play a show in every province and territory in Canada, from B.C. to Newfoundland to Nunavut. “Having never done a tour of Canada, Meg and I thought it was high time to go whole hog… from the ocean to the permafrost” says Jack White. “We wanted to play out of the way towns that don’t usually get shows… the shows are better, it’s better for the people, it’s a better experience, it’s way more unique, something interesting is going to happen…hopefully.”
White called upon filmmaker Emmett Malloy to come and document this trek for the band. Malloy had directed videos for the band in the past, and seemed eager to hit the road with them. Equipped with a couple of 16mm cameras, and a few other documenting devices, the band and crew all headed north. The end result was UNDER GREAT WHITE NORTHERN LIGHTS.
UNDER GREAT WHITE NORTHERN LIGHTS is a visual and emotional feature length film documenting The White Stripes making their way through Canada and culminating with their 10th anniversary show in Nova Scotia. The film documents the band playing shows all over Canada; from local bowling alleys, to city buses, and onward to the historic Savoy Theatre for the 10th Anniversary show. A show that turned out to be the longest show the band had ever done on stage together.
The film captures intimate moments of Jack and Meg both on and off stage as they travel through some of the most remote parts of the northern Yukon Territory. Along the way, they have some nice casual conversations about their ten years together, fire cannons, play some of their biggest songs together on stage, and even play a “one note show.” The cameras were there to capture every waking moment.
What UNDER GREAT WHITE NORTHERN LIGHTS does best is document one of the most enigmatic bands in the world, playing to local crowds in small towns. Some of these towns were so small that many of the locals had no idea who The White Stripes were — they just knew something big was going on in their town. This forced a band that had been together for a decade to go back to a place reminiscent of the first shows they ever played together. For the first time in a long time, no one knew who they were and they had to make a first impression with their music. The live footage captured in this film shows that Jack and Meg were clearly ready for this.
Beyond the live footage, some of the films most memorable moments happen off-stage — offering an insightful look into the very private and complex world that is The White Stripes. It was shortly after this tour that The White Stripes cancelled their fall tour of the United States – making the ten year anniversary a truly pivotal milestone for this legendary band.
"...their live performances are almost too much for celluloid."
- EYE WEEKLY
"...the result is something unique and fascinating – which also happens to rock awfully hard."
- NOW MAGAZINE
"A rock documentary on the band’s 2007 tour of Canada floats a tantalizing mystery about Mr. and Ms. White"
- THE GLOBE AND MAIL
"A bonanza for fans"
- THE TORONTO STAR
"Fell in love with a whirlwind tour of Canada"
- THE NATIONAL POST
"Jack is a one big, howling dynamo in concert as he plays guitar, mandolin, keyboards and enthusiastically throws himself headlong into every performance, knocking over instruments, his mic stand, slamming into the back of Meg and dropping to his knees or standing up on a speaker."
- TORONTO SUN
"They're enigmatic, mysterious — in their relationship with each other, with the audience, with their calculated colours and act. They tell you everything and nothing at same time."