Let There Be Rock - 30 years later
When the original movie hit the streets in the US, reviews were not uniformly favorable. The review of the movie from the New York Times (May 26, 1982) was somewhat less than appreciative.
Let There Be Rock - originally shunned by the media!
“The AC/DC that appears in ''Let There Be Rock'' is not the group as it exists today. Since the movie was made, the tattooed, oafish lead singer, Bon Scott, has died; he was succeeded by Brian Johnson. And musically, the group has grown from a mediocre parody of Led Zeppelin into one of the more craftsmanlike of heavy-metal bands - one whose satanically inclined anthems are shaped with a lean, melodic concision.”
The reviewer, Stephen Holden, goes on to describe the stage antics of Angus Young:
“But the star of AC/DC, then as now, is their lead guitarist, Angus Young, a kind of low-rent Mick Jagger, who literally hurls himself across the stage, shaking cloudbursts of sweat from his hair, duckwalking, doing a striptease in which he bares his behind and, at peak moments of frenzy, wriggling spastically on the floor, clutching his guitar.”
A parody of Led Zeppelin? Tattooed, oafish lead singer Bon Scott? Low-rent Mick Jagger? Indeed, having read thus far, those unfamilar with the band could be excused for giving not only this film a miss, but labeling the entire AC/DC band as a bunch of delinquent rejects.
Unfortunately the author’s review of the film fared almost as badly as that of the band members:
“About three-quarters of the movie is taken up with concert footage filmed in France two years ago. Crudely spliced in are scenes of the group loafing and snippets from an interview in which an off-screen voice asks questions such as ''Are you waiting for the Third World War?'' and ''What do you think of soccer?'' Their responses are almost invariably so garbled - apparently by drunkenness - as to be virtually unintelligible.”
“Technically, the movie is not all it's cracked up to be. At the Ziegfeld, the so-called Wall of Sound, which features a bank of 2,500- to 5,000-watt five-way amplifiers, is loud, to be sure. But it doesn't come close to capturing the reverberating thunder that can make arena rock so viscerally exciting. And in many of the concert scenes the soundtrack is noticeably out of synch with what's on the screen.”
What a difference 30 years can make
There are two obvious aspects to this: firstly, how AC/DC are currently perceived by the general population and by the somewhat more favorable tone of today's media; and secondly, how the technological advancement in sound and film technology can vastly improve both the audio and picture quality of the originating media.
Of course we expect and know that the soundtrack will be in-sync with what is on the screen, but we also know that the color, sharpness, detail, noise reduction and artifact removal will be the focus of nearly a year’s worth of work. The media will have been manipulated in such a manner as to make this movie appear as if it were filmed more recently (bar the obvious giveaways such as fashion / cars etc.) as opposed to something created in Charlie Chaplin times. How far the reparative restoration will go is unknown, in fact there are well over 20 hours of footage that were recorded, this could give way to the introduction of some new material, or provide scope for a more polished presentation of what already exists.
I believe the better this film can be improved the greater the overall impact the movie will have on its audience. The feeling that this could have been filmed a few months ago will invoke a sense of realism that will delight fans both young and old.
Either way….from the curiously phlegmatic to the die-hard AC/DC fan, the film’s re-release on DVD should receive a welcoming nod of approval - even from the media.