‘Becoming Led Zeppelin’ Documentary Added to Venice Film Festival

Movie by Bernard MacMahon will screen out of competition

Becoming Led Zeppelin
British rock band Led Zeppelin, (left – right): John Paul Jones, John Bonham (1948 – 1980), Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, pose in front of an their private airliner The Starship, 1973. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

“Becoming Led Zeppelin,” the first fully fledged documentary portrait of rock gods Led Zeppelin, has been added to the Venice Film Festival lineup and will play out of competition.

Bernard MacMahon (“American Epic”) directed the film, which is the first time the band had participated in a documentary in 50 years, telling the story of Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, John Bonham and Robert Plant and how they would bring a whole lotta love to the world.

MacMahon stages it not as a concert doc in the vein of the iconic 1976 film “The Song Remains The Same” but almost as a fantastical musical, which he says was in part inspired by “Singin’ in the Rain.”

“Becoming Led Zeppelin” starts its focus on each member of the band individually and how they went from playing small clubs throughout Britain in the ’60s until they met in the summer of 1968 for a rehearsal that would change their lives forever. It follows them into America in 1970 and how they would climb the stairway to heaven as the biggest band in the world.

Allison McGourty co-wrote and produced the film.

“With ‘Becoming Led Zeppelin’ my goal was to make a documentary that looks and feels like a musical. I wanted to weave together the four diverse stories of the band members before and after they formed their group with large sections of their story advanced using only music and imagery and to contextualize the music with the locations where it was created and the world events that inspired it,” MacMahon said in a statement. “I used only original prints and negatives, with over 70,000 frames of footage manually restored, and devised fantasia sequences, inspired by ‘Singin’ In The Rain,’ layering unseen performance footage with montages of posters, tickets and travel to create a visual sense of the freneticism of their early career.”

MacMahon’s debut film “American Epic” won the Audience Award at the Sydney International Film Festival and focused on how music scouts at the height of the Roaring Twenties set out to discover the artists that would reshape popular music.

The 78th Annual Venice Film Festival will run from September 1-11.


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