Shot! The Psycho-Spiritual Mantra of Rock
Told through the amphetamine-fuelled lens of rock‘n’roll’s most iconic photographer, Mick Rock, this documentary shares his story and photographs from the colourful and decadent glam rock of London to the harsher contrast of New York. The plot owes a lot to Rock’s images, which deliver not only intimate insights into some of the most legendary stars of the 1970s, but also into his own declining health as he endures three heart attacks and open heart surgery to produce some of the most well known album covers from the past 40 years.
When we think of London in the 1970s we think of Bowie, Queen, Syd Barrett and the Sex Pistols; we think of acid trips, rebellion, parties and some of the most famous music to have ever been produced. Although these elements are all included, the film is also peppered with Rock’s touching home videos from the decade and rare intimate audio recordings between him and his close friend, Lou Reed. The present-day footage of the photographer, interviewed whilst looking over his own broken body on the hospital bed, provides a somewhat out-of-place theatricality to exposing his inner demons with drug abuse and depression. The documentary centres around Rock’s near-death experience, continually showing re-enacted scenes of him lying topless in a blacked-out studio as he awaits open heart surgery. Despite the shocking translucence of Rock’s skin in the harsh surgeon’s light, he still (somewhat comically) wears his statement sunglasses, which resonates with his curt humour and blasé attitude towards his own health.
The tape recording from David Bowie at the Birmingham Town Hall, however, provides a remarkable and intimate insight into the aspiring star’s early career, and the start of Rock’s entry into the odyssey of drugs, glamour and his eventual operation. It is the photo of his lesser-known and possibly never-seen-before self-portrait that brings the film back to its purpose: to understand who Mick Rock is. Back in the present, a different side to the Cambridge-educated, gruff-voiced photographer is seen. His cutting remarks and frequent profanity suddenly cease, exposing the raw existential troubles the Brit has faced. There is something incredibly poignant about Rock rummaging through boxes of photographs in his New York home. The black and white filter and voiceover of Baudelaire quotes explores a man who struggles to understand himself and who is in some respects trapped by what he loves most: his photographs.
Shot! The Psycho-Spiritual Mantra of Rock is released in selected cinemas on 21st July 2017.
Watch the trailer for Shot! The Psycho-Spiritual Mantra of Rock here: