SHOT! The Psycho-Spiritual Mantra of Rock Review
A dream-like journey through the life and times of one of the greatest living rock photographers
Musical photographer Mick Rock takes you on a one-to-one psychedelic trip through his life and mind, making some fascinating stops along the way.Mick Rock has quite simply the perfect name for a man who lived and breathed the rock 'n roll lifestyle and who has come to be known as ‘The Man Who Shot the Seventies’. Rock was the photographer who captured the likes of Syd Barrett, David Bowie, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Blondie, Queen - to name a few - in their Sixties, Seventies and Eighties prime and would go on produce some of the most iconic and emblematic images ever captured, as well as direct Bowie’s first music videos.Shot! The Psycho-Spiritual Mantra of Rock is played out like a crazy adventure through the intense and wild mind of Rock, ricocheting between the lasting effects of heavy drug use and the spirituality of an enlightened soul. It’s at times loud, psychedelic and a bit trippy - all heightened through Rock’s reflective point of view, flitting between a serious health scare in 1996, his early childhood and his time at Cambridge University, all functioning as a backdrop to his eventual rise to fame.
Initially Shot! almost feels slightly self indulgent, especially with director Barney Clay forgoing the typical talking heads usually seen in documentaries, and using only Rock to navigate our journey through the film. Told solely through Rock's perspective, the use of voice overs, cassette recordings and a constructed stage set as a backdrop for Rock himself, the documentary at times becomes more about Rock the man rather than Rock the photographer. But as the film progresses you can’t help but get sucked into this crazy world which of course is only enhanced by the use of exclusive never before seen or heard archival film footage, audio recordings and original material and soon enough you find yourself falling down this historical rabbit hole.
Shot! is slightly strange in that there is no clear point to the film other than to showcase the work and life of Rock - which isn’t really a massive hindrance to the film as a whole other than at times it becomes slightly exhausting. But then I suppose that is ultimately the point of the film. At times it becomes a bit surreal as a result of the stage set up used to create specific moments from Rock’s life, which understandably adds a certain narrative element to the documentary. Visually it looks very good and is befitting of the story being told using bright colours to really ground the film in the eras into which it delves and aided by the musical score created by The Flaming Lips and Steven Drozd as well as featuring tracks from his various photographic subjects.
"I’m not after your soul, I’m after your aura" – Mick Rock
As a narrater Rock is extremely effective in recreating the feeling and sense of what it was like for him back then, when he was partying hard and spending time hunting out ‘big game’. He’s at times very funny as he shares little anecdotes and describes what life was like for him functioning on hardly any sleep and copious amounts of drugs but at the same time there is perhaps a hint of feeling overwhelmed, which one can only imagine was the result of being surrounded by such legendary figures and the lifestyle that came with them. But one thing that definitely comes across is his passion for photography and how it became his entire life.
For those who love the likes of Bowie, Reed, Iggy et al, those with a passion for photography and those who want to step back in time for a brief moment and revel in the outrageousness of the glam rock era and the early punk scene, Shot! makes for a fascinating watch. My only issue, or qualm, is that I almost wanted to see more of the photography and less of Rock - I wanted to hear more of the conversations between Rock and Bowie, I wanted to hear more of the music and spend longer with those iconic music legends.
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