New Doc Takes a Psychedelic Look Back at The Stooges

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On Tuesday, the DIA’s Detroit Film Theatre hosted the local premiere of Gimme Danger, a documentary about the influential Michigan rock ‘n’ roll band The Stooges, featuring a Q&A session with director Jim Jarmusch and Stooges frontman Iggy Pop following the screening.

Jarmusch starts his film in 1974, when label and public interest in The Stooges (originally known as “The Psychedelic Stooges”) dissipated and the band hit rock bottom, broke and strung out on drugs. In that way, Gimme Danger is positioned as part of a recent sub-genre of documentaries about then-obscure Detroit artists who went on to gain mainstream acclaim much later, as was the case with singer-songwriter Rodriguez (Searching for Sugar Man, 2012) and punk band Death (A Band Called Death, also 2012).

The Stooges, Fun House, [and] Raw Power are some of the most incredible gifts to rock ‘n’ roll ever, right? They gave us these things, and they’re 23, 24 years old,” Jarmusch said during the Q&A. “And that really struck me. I didn’t even make my first feature film until I was like 26. And I thought, look at what they achieved and what the world said at that time. So I wanted to start with that because it was kind of emotional for me to realize.”

Instead of relying on outsider commentators to weigh in on the influence of band, Jarmusch limits the story to largely being told by The Stooges themselves. In addition to tracking down rarely seen footage, he augments the film with animations and stock footage (of say, the band’s namesake The Three Stooges) — cut together at a rapid clip to zany, absurd effect. Jarmusch said his goal was “to keep the film playful and in the style of The Stooges’ music, which is wild, funny, emotional, sometimes very primitive and in other ways very sophisticated.”

Q&A moderator Ann Delisi asked Iggy Pop why, after all these years, there is more interest in The Stooges than ever. “There’s some sort of sincerity in there somewhere,” he said. “It resonates and it surprises me every day. It doesn’t surprise me intellectually, but it surprises me personally and emotionally every time I encounter someone and they share with me their feelings. And with every single human being it’s different. Somebody might say, ‘Hey, I was at your show 47 years ago,’ and that’s one thing. And someone else, they might want to tell you how they feel.”

Gimme Danger has upcoming screenings at the Detroit Film Theatre:

Oct. 28 and 29: 7 and 9:30 p.m.

Oct. 30: 2, 4:30 and 7 p.m.

Nov. 4 and 5: 9:30 p.m.

Nov. 6: 4:30 p.m.

See dia.org for tickets and more information.

Watch the trailer for the film below:

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