Movies and music with Mick and Marty

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Ed Symkus

The Rolling Stones recently got together with Martin Scorsese — during his brief break from filming “Shutter Island” in Boston — to field questions about their new concert movie “Shine a Light,” which was filmed over two nights at the Beacon Theatre in New York.

Ron Wood remained silent, Charlie Watts said exactly two words, and Keith Richards laughed a lot and added a few wisecracks. It came down to Scorsese and Mick Jagger giving a little insight on how they worked together and what they hope they achieved.

Mr. Scorsese, why it was important for you to make this film in a small venue?

Scorsese: We discussed doing it in a bigger arena, and I looked into that. And actually, while I was trying to prepare for that, I began to realize I’d rather — I think I’m better suited to — try to capture the group on a smaller stage. More for the intimacy of the group and the way they play together. It’s just a compulsion of mine.

The film is going to be on IMAX as well as regular screens. Do you think that experience will be very different for fans?

Jagger: It’ll be very large, so the slight imperfections might be revealed. (laughs)

Why did you choose Marty as a director?

Jagger: I’m going to embarrass him now, but he’s a fantastic director, and he assembled a wonderful crew. I think that he that he would agree with that. It’s also that we didn’t choose Marty. Marty chose us.

Scorsese: It was mutual.

You’ve featured the underworld and the mafia in so many of your films. What kind of comparisons can you now make between the Mob and the Stones?

Scorsese: I don’t know if I can make direct associations to it. (laughs) But it reminds me of when I went to see “The Threepenny Opera” back in 1959 or 1960, and how the music affected me, and what the play said. The lyrics are so important to me in that particular play. I grew up in an area that was kind of, in a sense, like “The Threepenny Opera,” and I think, at times, the Rolling Stones’ music had a similar effect on me. It dealt with aspects of a life that I was growing up around, that I was associated with or saw, or was experiencing, and was trying to make sense of. It was tougher, and it had an edge. It was beautiful and honest and powerful and brutal at times. It’s always stayed with me and it’s become a well of inspiration.

Are you guys still having fun doing this all these years later?

Jagger: A lot of fun. You know, shooting this movie was quite nerve-wracking in some ways, and it was fantastically enjoyable in other ways.

Mr. Scorsese, what exactly were you trying to capture in the film?

Scorsese: For me, it was, literally, the moments that you can see the band actually working together. Each song is like a narrative, a dramatic story. And the whole sound of the band is like a character. You know, one character. So with the grace of these wonderful cinematographers … I mean, they were able to, like poets sometimes, be able to know exactly when to move that camera and pick up another member of the band. Cameras were always running out of film, so another would pick up where someone left off. And that’s why there were so many of them. But the key was to find the moments between the members of the band — how they play together, how they work together, and how they work it like a machine.

The film works on some interesting levels because there’s a narrative arc in it. Was that all done in the editing?

Scorsese: We had hoped for that arc. That’s where the tension is. We needed them to perform the way they are. I couldn’t put cameras in their way, yet I wanted to get that arc. And I knew that [the cinematographers] could find the angles and find the looks and know when to pan to Ronnie on guitar, know when to pan to Keith, know when to stay on Mick and Charlie. So I was hoping that the cameras in those positions would get those moments. And then that was constructed in the editing.