Sept. 24--dates back to 1997, Ulrich explains, when Imax producers approached the band about making a concert film.
"At that time, it was too complicated, too impractical -- the cameras were like the size of trucks," he says of the Imax filming process. "But we sort of stored the idea, and three or four years ago, we brought the idea back out."
And they added to it. Having mined real life in "Some Kind of Monster," Metallica went the other direction and sought something that blurs the line between fantasy and reality. The band decided to partner with horror/sci-fi director Nimrod Antal ("Vacancy," "Predators") -- partly because, as Ulrich puts it, "we knew he was as crazy as we were."
The group, which also
features vocalist-guitarist James Hetfield and lead guitarist Kirk Hammett, co-wrote the screenplay with Antal. "Through the Never" -- which shares its title with a song from the band's 1991 self-titled effort, commonly referred to as "The Black Album" -- depicts one really wacky night at (and around) a Metallica concert. As the group pretty much goes about its business -- delivering a blistering concert -- a young roadie named Trip (Dane DeHaan) is sent off to retrieve a missing van.
Unfortunately, Trip's errand happens to coincide with what might just be the End of the World. So as Metallica is blowing through its classic tunes onstage, viewers are continually updated on Trip's progress during breaks in the concert action.
Ironically, the concept of creating a concert/narrative-feature hybrid came out of the band's experience with the documentary "Some Kind of Monster."
"We had a positive experience with the way ('Some Kind of Monster') penetrated the movie world and the way that people embraced it," Ulrich says. "I think one of the big reasons that ('Monster') worked so well was that there was kind of a dramatic arch in it. So, we figured, seven or eight years later, if we were going to do a concert movie to maybe put a dramatic arch into (it) -- do a hybrid between concert and storytelling."
It turned out to be easier said than done.
"The stress level in movie production I think definitely exceeds making records," Trujillo says. "There are so many people on a movie set, and you don't even know what half of them are doing. You know they are doing something important."
Yet there's definitely an upside to putting in this kind of all-consuming effort.
"There's nothing quite as rewarding as seeing what you've collaborated with come to life on the screen," Trujillo says. "It's beautiful."
Follow Jim Harrington at Twitter.com/jimthecritic, Facebook.com/jim.bayareanews and http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/category/concerts.
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