“A Sheep Trying to Seduce a Telephone Pole”
July 31, 2012 1 Comment
Classic review of Zeppelin’s movie The Song Remains the Same from the New York Times 10/21/76:
SCREEN: SONG ‘REMAINS THE SAME’
Zeppelin’s Rock Pulverizes Eardrums at Cinema I
By Richard Eder
New York Times October 21, 1976
The Song Remains the Same is a movie to listen to Led Zeppelin by. If you want to listen to Led Zeppelin. If you don’t, there’s not point going.
If you do, it’s still a dubious proposition. Certainly the sound system at the Cinema I Theater, where it opened yesterday, does full justice to the decibels. Even using the squashed-up balls of paper napkin recommended by a knowledgeable member of the newspaper’s music staff, it was loud. Powered ear-drum floated about.
Presumably, though, putting this British rock group in a movie was intended to be the equivalent not of listening to their records but of attending one of their concerts. This is very hard to do on film: We miss the immediacy, the sense of physical presence, and even, to an extend, physical peril. The power of a mass audience to communicate excitement is absent.
To make up for this, the film intercuts a variety of scenes while each of the 13 numbers in being performed. A few are more or less realistic – a sequence outside Madison Square Garden, an argument between the group’s manager and a Garden official – and others are fantasy. Members of the group put on cloaks, ride around on horses, stand in the moonlight. They are pseudodreams, like the unconvinced artwork on rock record jackets. The scenes showing the group performing are more informative though not much more powerful.
They are dominated by the singer, Robert Plant. A great mass of yellow curls tumbling around his shoulders, Mr. Plant sashays around the stage, posturing, pouting, and conducting a meaningful relationship with a microphone. It looks like a sheep trying to seduce a telephone pole.
Possibly this is what led to a PG (Parental Guidance suggested) rating. For the first two-thirds – which was all this reviewer stayed – there seemed to be no other particular threat to the future adults in a stone-deaf civilization.