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by Peter Clifton & Joe MassotPublication date 1973-10-20Usage Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 InternationalTopics Led Zeppelin, The Song Remains The Same, Film, DVD, Documentary, Movie, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, John Bonham, Peter Grant, Peter Clifton, Joe Massot, Rock, Hard Rock, Blues Rock, Heavy Metal, Folk Rock, Rock Progressif, Pop, 1976Publisher Warner Bros.Language English
Led Zeppelin ★ The Song Remains The Same ★ Film ★ 1976
The Song Remains the Same is a concert Film featuring the English Rock Band Led Zeppelin.
☣ DVD Scene Listing :
01. Mob Rubout
02. Mob Town Credits
03. Country Life (“Autumn Lake”)
05. Rock and Roll – 12:40
06. Black Dog– 16:58
07. Since I’ve Been Loving You – 21:48
08. No Quarter–30:48
09. Who’s Responsible ?
10. The Song Remains the Same – 43:24
11. The Rain Song – 49:08
12. Fire and Sword
13. Capturing the Castle
14. Not Quite Backstage Pass
15. Dazed and Confused – 58:27
16. Strung Out
17. Magic in the Night
18. Gate Crasher
19. No Comment
20. Stairway to Heaven– 1:28:22
21. Moby Dick – 1:39:38
22. Country Squire Bonham
23. Heartbreaker – 1:51:06
24. Grand Theft
25. Whole Lotta Love – 1:55:02
26. End Credits (w/ “Stairway to Heaven“) – 2:09:40
The filming took place during the summer of 1973, during three nights of concerts at Madison Square Garden in New York City, with additional footage shot at Shepperton Studios. The film premiered three years later on 20 October 1976 at Cinema I in New York, on 22 October 1976 at Fox Wilshire in Los Angeles, and at Warner West End Cinema in London two weeks later. It was accompanied by a soundtrack album of the same name. The DVD of the film was released on 31 December 1999.
Promotional materials stated that the film was “the band’s special way of giving their millions of friends what they had been clamouring for – a personal and private tour of Led Zeppelin. For the first time the world has a front row seat on Led Zeppelin.” (…)…
☣ Cast :
• John Bonham
• Richard Cole
• Peter Grant
• John Paul Jones
• Jimmy Page
• Robert Plant
• Colin Rigdon
• Derek Skilton
☣ Led Zeppelin ☣
• Robert Plant – Vocals
• Jimmy Page – Guitars, Backing Vocals, Production, Sound Editing, Mixing
• John Paul Jones – Bass Guitar, Keyboards
• John Bonham – Drums, Percussion
☣ Additional Personnel :
• Peter Clifton – director
• Brian Condliffe – technician
• Cameron Crowe – liner notes
• Ernie Day – camera operator
• Robert Freeman – camera operator
• David Gladwell – editor
• Peter Grant – executive producer
• Mick Hinton – technician • Eddie Kramer – sound engineer
• Ian Knight – visual effects and lighting
• Benji Le Fevre – technician
• Joe Massot – director
• Shelly – special effects
• Ray Thomas – technician
• Steven Weiss – shoot trouble
• Kirby Wyatt – visual effects and lighting
☣ The Album (LP) : Led Zeppelin ★ The Song Remains The Same ★ 1976
☣ Led Zeppelin Albums : HERE ★ ☆ ★Enjoy and Share !
Directed by Peter Clifton & Joe Massot
Starring : John Bonham, John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page & Robert Plant
Music by Led Zeppelin
Camera Operator : Ernest Day
Edited by Humphrey Dixon
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release Date : 20 October 1976 (US)
Running Time : 137 minutes
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☣ Fantasy Sequences :
With the intention of giving an insight into the individual personalities in the band, several out-of-concert ‘fantasy sequences’ were shot by Massot for each of the band members, as well as for Peter Grant and tour manager Richard Cole. The sequences are as follows:
• Grant and Cole were filmed as hitmen driving towards Hammerwood Park estate in Sussex in a 1928 Pierce-Arrow car. Roy Harper also makes an uncredited guest appearance as one of the ‘greedy millionaires’ portrayed at a business meeting of multi-national corporations. Massot envisioned Grant and Cole in the hitman roles, as it symbolised the tough business decisions they made on behalf of the band. The female passenger wearing a scarf with Peter Grant driving on a country road is his wife, Gloria. Massot had originally shot Grant walking a cameraman around a collection of antique cars, but this footage was quickly abandoned.
• John Paul Jones was filmed first at home with his wife Mo, and reading Jack and the Beanstalk to his two daughters, Tamara and Jacinda, before receiving a call to join the band on their American concert. For his fantasy sequence, Jones initially wished to use footage from the original Doctor Syn film, but was prevented from doing so as this film was owned by Disney. Instead, his fantasy sequence involved a reinterpretation of the film. Jones portrays a masked gentleman known as “The Scarecrow,” who travels at night on horseback with three others and returns home to Sussex, an ordinary family man. The three other horsemen with him are a reference to the other band members. Jimmy Page’s girlfriend, Charlotte Martin, and baby daughter Scarlet Page can be briefly seen during the closing moments of this sequence, which was filmed in October 1973. The thematic music is “No Quarter.”
• Robert Plant was captured relaxing on his Welsh country farm with his wife Maureen, and children Karac and Carmen. His fantasy sequence involves him being a knight rescuing a fair maiden (played by Virginia Parker), who is a symbolic representation for his vision of the ideal—his personal search for the Holy Grail. Scenes from the sword fight were filmed at Raglan Castle in Wales while the sailing, horseback riding and beach scenes were shot at Aberdovey then Merionethshire and now Gwynedd, in October 1973. The thematic music consists of both “The Song Remains the Same” and “The Rain Song.”
• Jimmy Page is filmed sitting by a lake next to his 18th century manor at Plumpton, East Sussex, playing a hurdy-gurdy. The tune played is called “Autumn Lake” and the scene was filmed in October 1973. Page’s fantasy role involved climbing up the face of a snow-capped mountain near Boleskine House, Loch Ness during the nights of a full moon on December 10 and 11, 1973. The act was meant to show Page on a quest of self-enlightenment, and deep understanding, by seeking out the Hermit, a character featured in many Tarot packs. The mythological Hermit is seen on the summit of the mountain; Staff of Wisdom in one hand, and in the other, the Lantern of Knowledge held out abreast over the world below. Being a Threshold Guardian, he represents an obstacle the seeker must overcome to achieve true enlightenment. At the culmination of Page’s quest, he reaches out to touch The Hermit, only to discover paradoxically that the Hermit is himself. The Hermit features on the artwork of the untitled fourth album. The thematic music is “Dazed and Confused.”
• John Bonham was shot with his wife Pat and son Jason Bonham on their country estate, Old Hyde Farm in Worcestershire. It is interesting to note that part of his fantasy includes him spending time at home with his family. Bonham was known for falling into deep depressions while on tour away from his family. His heavy drinking, which ultimately resulted in his death, is partly attributed to his homesickness. The sequence also shows Bonham doing various work around his farm, showing off his livestock and cars, and jamming with his 5-year-old son while he plays a miniature drum kit. The game of snooker was shot at The Old Hyde Hotel and the Triumph riding near Blackpool. His fantasy sequence is the most straightforward of all the members—according to the Led Zeppelin biography Hammer of the Gods, Bonham simply chose to “be himself”. The sequence ends with Bonham drag racing an AA Fueler at 260 mph at Santa Pod Raceway, Wellingborough, Northants, UK, in October 1973, and its thematic music is the instrumental “Moby Dck.”
☣ Background :
A reissue of the film, including previously unreleased footage as a bonus, was released on DVD, HD DVD, and Blu-ray Disc on 20 November 2007, by Warner Home Video.
Since late 1969, Led Zeppelin had been planning on filming one of their live performances for a projected movie documentary of the band. The group’s manager, Peter Grant, believed that they would be better served by the big screen than by television, because he regarded the sound quality of the latter as unsatisfactory. The first attempt was the filming (by Peter Whitehead and Stanley Dorfman) of Led Zeppelin’s Royal Albert Hall performance on 9 January 1970, but the lighting was judged to be mediocre, and the film was shelved (this footage was later remastered and featured on the 2003 release Led Zeppelin DVD).
On the morning of 20 July 1973, during the band’s concert tour of the United States, Peter Grant made a contact with American-born director Joe Massot. Massot was already known to Grant as he and his wife had moved into a house in Berkshire in 1970, where they made friends with their neighbours, Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page and his girlfriend Charlotte Martin. Grant had previously turned down offers by Massot to make a film of the band, but with the huge success of the band’s current tour, Grant changed his mind and offered him the job of director. As Grant recalled:
It all started in the Sheraton Hotel, Boston. We’d talked about a film for years and Jimmy had known Joe Massot was interested — so we called them and over they came. It was all very quickly arranged.
Massot hurriedly assembled a crew in time for Led Zeppelin’s last leg of the tour starting on 23 July 1973, in Baltimore. He subsequently filmed the group’s three concert performances at Madison Square Garden on the nights of 27, 28, and 29 July 1973. The film was entirely financed by the band and shot on 35mm with a 24-track quadraphonic sound recording. The live footage in the US alone cost $85,000.
The plans to film the shows at Madison Square Garden were threatened when the local trades union tried to block the British film crew from working. The band’s attorneys negotiated with the union and the crew was eventually allowed to film the concerts.
The footage of the band arriving at the airport in their private jet airliner, The Starship, and travelling in the motor cavalcade to the concert was filmed in Pittsburgh, before their show at Three Rivers Stadium on 24 July 1973.
For the band’s three New York performances, the band members wore exactly the same clothes to facilitate seamless editing of the film, except for John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page who wore different sets of attire on some of the nights, which created continuity problems. Page is seen wearing a different dragon suit in “Rock and Roll” and the “Celebration Day” remaster. In an interview from 1997 Jones said that the reason he didn’t wear the same stage clothes was that he asked the crew if they would be filming on those nights and was told no. “I’d think ‘not to worry, I’ll save the shirt I wore the previous night for the next filming’. Then what would happen is that I’d get onstage and see the cameras ready to roll.”
As Led Zeppelin’s popularity soared throughout the 1970s, Peter Grant became increasingly notorious for being brutally protective of his band and their finances. The Song Remains the Same captures one such exchange between him and a concert promoter. When Warner Bros. approved the film they did so on the proviso that expletives would be ‘bleeped’ out. Clifton took the optical print and bleeped the words, meaning the words were inaudible and the film was given an appropriate rating. However, on every other print the words were retained and were fully audible.
In the scene where Peter Grant is driven to the police station to be questioned about the theft from the safe deposit box at the Drake Hotel, he has his arm outside the police car. According to an interview conducted in 1989, he explained the reason he wasn’t handcuffed was that the policeman driving the car used to be a drummer in a semi-professional band which had supported The Yardbirds on one of its US college tours in the late-1960s. Grant had at the time been manager of The Yardbirds. The money stolen from the safe deposit box at the Drake Hotel was never recovered and no one has ever been charged. Although a former staff member of the hotel reportedly fled to Jamaica, soon after the theft.
The scenes of police chasing an intruder and of Grant berating the promoter for receiving kickbacks were both shot at the Baltimore Civic Center on 23 July 1973. Grant purportedly recommended the “Dazed and Confused” sequence wherein the camera zooms into Page’s eyes and cuts to the scene.
Some unused backstage shots filmed at Baltimore and at Pittsburgh later found their way into the promotional video for “Travelling Riverside Blues”, released in 1990.
Dissatisfied with the progress of the film, Grant had Massot removed from the project and Australian director Peter Clifton was hired in his place in early 1974. Massot was offered a few thousand pounds in compensation. Peter Grant later sent someone to Massot’s house to collect the film. However, Massot had hidden the film elsewhere and so instead an expensive editing machine owned by Massot was taken as collateral. Massot served a writ, leading to a period of stalemate which was finally broken when Grant and Led Zeppelin’s lawyer Steve Weiss agreed to pay Massot the money he was owed, after which he delivered the film to the band. Massot was not invited to attend the premiere of the film at New York but he attended anyway, buying a ticket from a scalper outside the theatre.
Clifton, realising that there were crucial holes in the concert footage, suggested that the entire show be recreated at Shepperton Studios in August 1974, on a mock-up of the Madison Square Garden stage. Close-ups and distance footage of the band members could then be slipped into the live sequences, which made up the bulk of the concert footage seen in the film. When it was agreed that the band would meet at Shepperton Studios for filming, Jones had recently had his hair cut short, so he had to wear a wig. Robert Plant’s teeth had also been fixedbetween the 1973 and 1974 filmings.
In the May 2008 issue of Uncut Magazine, Page recalled the events surrounding the shooting of additional footage at Shepperton Studios:
… I’m sort of miming at Shepperton to what I’d played at Madison Square Garden, but of course, although I’ve got a rough approximation of what I was playing from night to night, it’s not exact. So the film that came out in the ’70s is a bit warts-and-all.
A plan to shoot additional footage on the band’s Autumn 1975 U.S. tour was abandoned due to Plant’s car crash in Rhodes, Greece.
In 1976 a midnight screening of the film was organised by Atlantic Records before its release, at which label president Ahmet Ertegün reportedly fell asleep.
The Song Remains the Same was finally completed by early 1976, 18 months behind schedule and over-budget. Peter Grant later quipped “It was the most expensive home movie ever made”. It grossed $200,000 in its first week at the box office.
Following the film’s completion, Led Zeppelin had a falling out with Peter Clifton. Suspecting that he had ‘stolen’ negatives of the film, Grant ordered that his house be searched. They did find some footage, but this turned out to be a collection of the best ‘home movie’ footage which Clifton had intended to give to the band members as a gift. Clifton was also annoyed at the decision to remove from the film’s credits the names of all the people who had worked on editing, make up and effects. Unlike Massot, however, Clifton was invited to both the New York and London premieres of the film.
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