Posted: 02/29/2012


From The Sky Down

by Del Harvey

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U2 are set to release the documentary From The Sky Down on DVD, Blu-Ray and video download on January 24th, 2012 with bonus performances and interviews. The film documents the making of the band’s landmark 1991 album Achtung Baby.

Early in 2011, the band returned to Hansa Studio in Berlin to discuss the making of Achtung Baby with Academy Award winning director Davis Guggenheim (It Might Get Loud, Waiting for Superman, An Inconvenient Truth).

From the Sky Down is an amazing film for fans of Ireland’s best-known rock band, U2. It delves into the production of their hugely popular 1991 album, Achtung Baby, and the album’s difficult recording period, the band members’ relationships, and the group’s creative process.

Mr. Guggenheim was commissioned by U2 to create the film to commemorate the record’s 20th anniversary and he ended up spending several months in 2011 developing the documentary. The band were filmed during a return visit to Hansa Studios in Berlin where the album was partly recorded, and during rehearsals in Winnipeg for the Glastonbury Festival 2011.

Perhaps of most appeal to their fans, the film contains unreleased scenes from the group’s 1988 motion picture Rattle and Hum, along with archival footage and stills from the Achtung Baby recording sessions. One sequence from the film recounts the improvisation of the album’s amazing song “One” through the replaying of old recording tapes.

At the time, the four members of the group - vocalist Bono, guitarist The Edge, bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. - were so much at odds with each other that they had become uncertain about their musical future. Confronting this dilemma, they decided to throw out their self-imposed rule book and to face down their uncertainties. The result was one of the most stylistically ambitious albums they had ever created.

As Guggenheim says, “I think part of it is the trust we gained doing It Might Get Loud, they sort of let me have a free hand.” Perhaps because of this, the film sometimes comes across as true documentary, which can be much more appealing to film studies than it would be to fan’s of the band’s music. However, the film is a documenting of a specific turning point in the life of one of the most popular bands in musical history, and as such it is fascinating.

The trailer for From The Sky Down can be seen by clicking here.

From The Sky Down released on Blu-Ray/DVD/Download on 1/24/2011.

Del Harvey is the founder of Film Monthly, a film teacher, a writer and a film critic in Chicago.

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