In 1990, the remaining members of the Rolling Stones were featured in a documentary 25×5 made by Nigel Finch. For the band’s 50th anniversary, director Brett Morgen didn’t get to film the aging British rockers.
Instead he uses audio soundtrack that includes new interviews with Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts, Keith Richards and other Stones. The visuals are from existing archive footage. The result is Crossfire Hurricane. Its release coincides with the new greatest hits album and series of anniversary concerts.
Crossfire Hurricane doesn’t bring something new but it is still something that every fan must watch even if the documentary is a commercial exercise in self-promotion. It is set to premiere at the London Film Festival and HBO will air it in the United States. While it doesn’t close its doors for possible theatrical screenings, the rockumentary is made for the home entertainment market.
The sources of the videos used for Crossfire Hurricane is Peter Whitehead’s Charlie is My Darling to Gimme Shelter by the Maysles brothers, Martin Scorsese’s Shine a Light, and Robert Frank’s Cocksucker Blues. Morgen expertly combines all the elements in a fluid documentary.
Crossfire Hurricane successfully captures the feel of being in the backstage of a Rolling Stones concert. It is a constant mix of sound, sensation and crowd noise. Don’t expect to see a concert movie because it is not one. Most of the music in the documentary comes from different live recordings.
Crossfire Hurricane covers less than half of the story. It features a lot of the band’s first two decades but not much about its last three decades as a multi-millionaire corporate brand. Jagger and Richards recall the drugs bust in 1967 that led to their brief jail time. Then two years later, their fellow founding member Brian Jones died followed by the disastrous Altamont Speedway show that resulted into carnage and slaughter.
If you’re looking for new insights into the life of the rock and roll legends, then don’t watch Crossfire Hurricane. The documentary is just another way for the band to earn from their fame as they celebrate half a century in the spotlight.