Photo: Julian Jones
THE ROLLING STONES - IRELAND 1965 (a/k/a Charlie is my Darling)
Creating a film with materials collected by someone else can be a daunting task, and even more so in the shadow of a pre-existing work. Expectations and, in this case, myth also played an enormous part in approaching this project. When researching the restoration of Peter Whitehead’s original 35-minute film, I stumbled upon hours of unprocessed footage, wild audio and outtakes. It is with this backdrop that my editor and I began this concept.
We started with short, murky black and white concert clips with no idea if there was enough for even a single, full performance. Using live recordings of “The Last Time’ and ‘Satisfaction’ from the ’65 tour, we attempted to identify and sync seemingly random shots. When the silent film came to life, it was a revelation. Like finding a lost relic. I immediately realized what we had, and nearly as quickly, what I wanted to attempt to do. If it worked, we had a unique opportunity to show The Rolling Stones in a way the world had never seen them before; as a band just coming into their own – raw, visceral, innocent and with purpose.
My intentions were two fold: Most importantly, give the audience a first-hand view of what it was like to be at one of their early shows. Up until we discovered this footage, unless you were at one of the concerts, the only opportunity to see them perform was through television – controlled and brief. The second objective, with the benefit of 47 years of history - and using their own words, was to foreshadow the future.
There was much discussion on whether or not to update and modernize the style. The thought of incorporating graphics and headlines from newspapers of the time was enticing. I also considered adding narration or new interviews. But in the end, decided that it might feel less manipulative and more authentic if kept somewhat in the style of a film from the era. As if it always existed.
There were enormous challenges to make this work – not the least of which was the restoration of the elements. Besides the disparate mix of print, negative, rough-cuts and discards, many fragments were so badly damaged there were serious doubts as to whether we could make them match.
We faced equal difficulties with the audio. Forensic techniques were used to recover buried voices and music, nearly lost to time and erosion. I also wanted surround sound for the concert. Having produced The Rolling Stones Rock & Roll Circus, I knew that a realistic live feeling could be created from the limited three-track recordings we had. But with Circus, we had one venue and relatively similar audio sources. In this film, we were in airports, taxis, hotel rooms, planes, trains and concert halls. This all required a delicate and careful touch to keep believability and to maintain the integrity of music. The production team’s unrelenting dedication and determination led a monumental effort with, in my opinion, spectacular results.
Finally, pacing. To create a course that leads, ebbs and flows, and ultimately reveals something, for me, is the hardest part of filmmaking. I hope we’ve accomplished that.
There is a moment in the film where Mick Jagger, Andrew Oldham and Glyn Johns go for a walk. Perhaps it’s just for a moment of solitude. I originally intended it to be the antithesis of the ‘This Boy’ scene in “A Hard Day’s Night” with Ringo. Here, it’s Andrew being mischievous and a little deviant. But a strange thing happens. The kids start following. A few at first, growing to a procession. It struck me: these kids in 1965 are following Mick like the Pied Piper. And he’s leading them – right through the end of the century. They are following still.
-mick gochanour, nyc 2013