2011 / Director. David Guggenheim.
U2's 1991 album Achtung Baby changed things for me. It marked a maturity in my musical interests and to this day I still regard it to be one of the greatest albums ever made... and definitely U2's best. It was a turning point for the band, which could have easily seen their demise. FROM THE SKY DOWN is a documentary, which explores the band's dynamics during the albums production. The first 40 minutes of the film examines their early years and rise to fame and in doing so sets the scene beautifully for Achtung Baby's conception. U2 can be wanky at the best of times but they're always self-referential and critical of themselves at the same time. In this film each of the band members offer personal insight and they don't shy away from addressing individual shortcomings. Rather than presenting a clinical "glimpse" at the technical production of the album the film focuses on the mind-sets of the band and where they were at emotionally. It's a fascinating journey and director David Guggenheim was granted complete access to private archives. I have never seen any of this footage before and I was amazed at how much of their lives was committed to film during the time. It's mostly personal home footage and its insightful. I have loved the band for 20+ years but was never fully aware of their creative process. I had no idea that Bono constructed songs from gibberish and that multiple songs were often spawned from one original piece. The film also chronicles the creation of one of the band's most famous songs, One, and follows the entire process. It's very revealing. Being a fan I wanted the film to keep going... I wanted to see Achtung Baby's mutation into Zooropa and beyond... and as a fan my thirst was only barely quenched. To be continued? I hope so. I doubt it. I can dream. FROM THE SKY DOWN is essential for any U2 fan and most musicians would also appreciate where this story is coming from. Non-music fans will be bored shitless, however. This is U2 stripped to the bone and in a very vulnerable position.