The Who is perhaps the most cinematic of bands, and not just because of their big screen output of “Tommy,” “Quadrophenia” and “The Kids Are Alright.”
Their heyday concerts were more than just concerts: they were full-fledged experiences, vessels for experimentations with sound, image and distinctive character.
The documentary “Lambert & Stamp” illuminates a key reason for the band’s distinctive identity: it tells the stories of Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp, the aspiring filmmakers and fans of Jean-Luc Godard who became The Who’s first managers.
Director James Cooper crafts an impressionistic, shape-shifting story that discombobulates linear material by stressing emotional threads. He takes us through the band’s early years largely from Stamp’s point of view (Lambert died in 1981) but Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend are candid and detailed in their answers.
This is not a concert picture in any sense; you’ll only hear snippets of “Behind Blue Eyes” or “Baba O’Riley.” Still, the film is all about the art, lovingly documenting the ways in which these two unlikely men, largely improvising through an unfamiliar world, harnessed a unique energy that still propels one of the world’s great rock bands to this day.